ALGOMA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Food pantries in West Michigan are seeing more people looking for assistance.

The North Kent Connect food pantry near Rockford is seeing the highest demand since the height of the pandemic, according to Scott Christie, the director of donor engagement.

“We’re up about 40%. Last year about 200 families were coming through the pantry every month and now we’re up to nearly 350 every month coming through,” Christie said.

Meat and dairy products are some of the most sought-after items. 

“We are seeing people that hadn’t been in here since maybe 2016 or 2017 that are now coming back because of the cost of food,” Christie said.

The number of clients is also expanding with 107 signing up since January.

“We’re seeing about 350 families come through every month and that’s about 820 people that are being fed who otherwise might not be,” Christie said.

One of the biggest drivers is the grocery bill as people have to deal with high inflation.

“Food costs are up about 11% and we’re feeling that as well but our clients are definitely feeling that,” Christie said.

The North Kent Connect food pantry. (May 12, 2023)
The North Kent Connect food pantry. (May 12, 2023)

North Kent Connect says a higher cost of living is not the only factor bringing people in.

“Food costs have definitely driven people coming in looking for assistance but also some of the benefits that were going on through COVID have ended and families that were relying on that to make up that difference,” he said.

The pantry has changed its income requirements to make more people eligible to use the service to help with the challenges. The demand for the pantry’s food is expected to remain high. 

“With those benefits that ended back in March, that’s what’s driving the growth right now in clients, in the number of clients coming in for assistance and we don’t see that slowing down anytime soon,” Christie said.  

To learn more on how you can support the pantry, you can find information on its website,