HILLSDALE — On a dreary, blustery and cold Tuesday morning, Hillsdale County residents lined up outside of the Hillsdale Salvation Army to receive fresh food, part of the organizations Fresh Food Initiative.
The initiative, which began in June of 2012, provides those residents in need with a box of fresh food, breads and a dessert.
Sue LeFevre, a Salvation Army employee, said they don’t know week to week what will be on the truck until it arrives each Tuesday morning.
The fresh food initiative gives residents a healthy food option.
“For those residents who are looking for options in cooking the fresh food, we are more than happy to help with recipes,” said Kathy Stump, Salvation Army administrative assistant.
The Salvation Army pays a $300 delivery fee a week from the Food Bank of South Central Michigan for the food, which will feed around 250 families.
Volunteers from the Hope House in Jonesville help the Salvation Army staff pack boxes and bag vegetables on a weekly basis.
During the month of March, 30 unduplicated volunteers contributed 217 hours of service.
Tuesday morning Michele Dropulich and LeAnn Voigtritter, volunteers from the Hope House, were busy packing bags with fresh green beans to be added to the boxes.
“I’ve been on both sides of the line,” Dropulich said. “It feels good to give back with a smile — this is a way I can give back.”
“The house has given me an opportunity. It feels good to be able to pay it forward,” she added.
Food distribution is from 9:30-11:30 a.m. every Tuesday.
Stump said it is open to anyone that is in need of food, no questions asked.
She said lately they have been averaging around 150 families a week.
The remaining food is distributed to other food banks around Hillsdale County.
She said the food has to be distributed fairly quickly, because it is close to its expiration date when it is received.
During the month of March, 604 families or 1,709 individuals were assisted, 372 of which were children. The wholesale value of the food distributed was $48,690.59. The Salvation Army paid $1,200 for the food.
The Salvation Army also offers a free lunch from noon to 1 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays. The emergency food pantry is open from 9 a.m. to noon and 1-3 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
By Andy Barrand