KENTWOOD, Mich. (WOOD) — The shelves of the Green Apple food pantry reflect the community they serve. Much like the diversity that exists within East Kentwood High School, educating students from 83 different countries, the food stocked at the Green Apple is ripe with cultural diversity.
“We try to accommodate that,” pantry executive director Nancy Cromley said of the cultural diversity. “We give our neighbors things like rice and beans and split peas because they ask for it. Some of the pantries don’t want those things cause their neighbors don’t use them. Ours do. We try to have some of those specialty spices but that’s a little difficult. But I think the biggest thing is the diversity of the neighbors that we’re serving. And we really have the ability to give a lot of very, nice, fresh food. So our selection is vast.”
Though the selection may be vast, Cromley says that the current state of the pantry is difficult. Like all other eight pantries the Frenzy Food Drive has highlighted, the demand is up and the donations are down.
“We’re struggling. We’re worried about the holidays. We have ordered our holiday food and we’re hoping we get in enough turkeys to help everybody,” Cromley said. “We were running out of food a week ago. Getting canned goods, shelf-stable food has been difficult. We all see it in the grocery store. You go to a shelf and it’s empty and you think, ‘What, why is that shelf empty?’ Well, it’s empty here too.”
The Green Apple is hoping that the Frenzy Food Drive finale at East Kentwood will go a long way to help the 750 individuals they serve each month.
“I know that some of those kids that are bringing food to us, are also some of those families that use our pantry. And so the fact that they are giving back is huge,” Cromley said. “These community supported organizations and things that are happening in the community with food drives make a significant difference for us.”
As is, she says, their partnership with Feeding America West Michigan. But even that relationship she admits is bringing some worry.
“It’s huge. We order food from Feeding America all the time and we have noticed that when we go on their website, we don’t see some of that donated food that we once saw,” Cromley said. “And I think that speaks volumes to what is happening. You know, they’re not getting it. We’re not getting it. It’s not in the grocery stores. It’s kind of scary what’s happening out there.”
East Kentwood ultimately collected 261 pounds of food for the pantry.
What they receive will go to where it’s needed. Cromley’s mission is to make sure that no one who lives in the areas they serve of Kentwood, Southeast Grand Rapids, Caledonia or Wyoming goes to bed hungry, and that no food that comes through the Green Apple’s doors ever sees a dumpster.
“I always say, by the grace of God go I, because we are all one paycheck away from possibly needing help,” Cromley said. “And we see that every week. New families come, new individuals come and say, ‘I’ve never been to a food pantry, I don’t know what to do.’ And that’s what we’re here for. We feel if a neighbor comes to our front door, they have a need. That’s the end of their story.”
And the beginning of the Green Apple’s story.