Eleanor's Pantry Featured on Regional TV News!

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From Chanel 17 News Station:

PAW PAW, Mich. -- Rather than contributing to the massive amounts of food waste, some local organizations work with farms, grocers, and other businesses to get donations to feed the hungry.

Sue Miller, Board President and Volunteer Coordinator with Chanel 17 Reporter

Sue Miller, board president and volunteer coordinator with Eleanor's Pantry in Paw Paw, makes regular rounds to area businesses to collect food donations, which range from eggs to bread to pizza. Most of which is food that would have otherwise been thrown out.

Eleanor's Pantry is completely run by volunteers, and has established relationships with major grocers and farmers who donate weekly.  They offer free groceries monthly to local families based on family size; no proof of income needed.

Feeding America West Michigan is a  hub for local pantries in 40 counties in the West Michigan and the Upper Peninsula that also collects donations from local farms and businesses.

They process about 28 million pounds of food a year.

"I think any major food producer that you can think of, they have a food donation program," said Feeding America West Michigan spokesperson Andrew Steiner.

In the past five years, Steiner says donations increased and says the Good Samaritan Act helps: it protects donors from liability when they give food in good faith to charity.

Surrounded by local farms and orchards, Steiner says Feeding America West Michigan is fortunate to have "great access" to fresh produce: some of the most nutritious foods, sometimes the toughest to get.

"Low-income families shouldn't have to choose between being hungry and being healthy," said Emilie Engelhard, a spokesperson for the Fair Food Network.

The Fair Food Network, headquartered in Ann Arbor, launched a healthy food incentive program Double Up Food Bucks in 2009.   They were backed with a $5 million grant from the 2014 Farm Bill.   Engelhard said Michigan's model inspired 16 other states' programs.

"Even with SNAP benefits, there's often not enough money to buy food for the entire month," Engelhard said.  "And Double Up incentives can help, and they help by filling low-income families' hunger gap in increasing their food purchasing power."

Double Up Food Bucks will match up to $20 SNAP dollars per day on Michigan-grown fruits and vegetables bought at 150 farm stands, mobile markets, and grocery stores statewide. In other words, a family using SNAP and Double Up can bring home up to $40 total of healthy local produce daily.

Since its start, Engelhard said the Double Up Food Bucks program has helped about 300,000 customers for a total of $7 million Double Up and SNAP dollars combined.

"We ourselves might not be able to fix the employment situation, or fix the wage situation, but we can guarantee that everyone has enough food to eat at all times," Steiner said.  "There is more than enough food in the American food system to do that."

Find 150+ participating Double Up locations statewide.

Click here to find a food pantry near you.

To find the nearest mobile pantry in Muskegon, Ottawa, Newaygo, and Oceana Counties, click here.

To find the nearest mobile pantry in Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren County, click here.

If you or anyone you know needs help to find food resources, you can also call 211.