Grand Rapids, Mich., has experienced a greater than usual number of weather-related school closures so far this winter. When schools close, so do programs providing emergency food for students in difficult circumstances. Seymour Christian Reformed Church partnered with a local food pantry to make sure low-income kids had access to the necessary meals.
Seymour opened up its doors to serve as an emergency distribution site for Kids' Food Basket on January 31 and February 1. Kids' Food Basket provided supplemental food items including bananas, pears, apples, carrot packs, meat sticks, and cereal.
Seymour's involvement arose out of a conversation between Amy VanderPloeg, a member of the congregation for the past 16 years, and her neighbor Afton DeVos, the chief operating officer for Kids' Food Basket.
DeVos mentioned that the families typically served “hadn't had school-provided food in nearly a week,” VanderPloeg said. He said Kids’ Food Basket was trying to find alternative sites to distribute snack foods and sack suppers that are ordinarily sent home with students.
DeVos asked VanderPloeg if Seymour might consider being a distribution site. VanderPloeg didn't hesitate. She texted Brian White, the pastor at Seymour, and he quickly embraced the idea. The next day, Kids' Food Basket set up shop at the church with a team of volunteers from the organization assisted by VanderPloeg and several others from Seymour.
“They just needed space and a willing and welcoming area. It was an awesome thing that we were able to do that as a church,” VanderPloeg said.
Seymour has a history of supporting hunger relief projects, including a mobile food pantry that comes around to the church once every quarter. The congregation's children's ministries program has decorated bags for Kids' Food Basket in the past, VanderPloeg said.
About 15 families were provided for during the two days.
“We could tell it meant a lot to them,” VanderPloeg said. “There were no limitations on the amount of food, and it was amazing to help those that did come in.