More people facing hunger seek help
Although the number of people in Lenawee County receiving government food assistance has remained consistent since a large jump in 2008, local non-profit, God’s Bread Basket, continues to see the number of people served increase.
The group started serving meals in 2010 and provided 7,000 meals the first year. In 2011, God’s Bread Basket served 9,000 meals with 10,000 meals provided in 2012. Roland von Kaler, president of the board, expects the 2013 numbers to be close to 11,000.
There are two locations for meals. Every Monday, people can get a pizza and salad dinner at The First Presbyterian Church of Tecumseh on the Boulevard. Tuesday through Friday, Tecumseh Church of Christ hosts a hot meal from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
“Anybody is welcome, no questions asked,” von Kaler said. “Some people come because they are lonely and some come because they need food.”
Volunteers staff the kitchen at the Church of Christ and serve the meal. When the health department told God’s Bread Basket the kitchen was not up to code and would have to shut down, God’s Bread Basket received an anonymous donation for renovation, and the church brought the kitchen up to code.
“They really do a bang-up job,” von Kaler said of the church’s support of the volunteer organization.
“We have a commercial kitchen, and we serve a hot meal,” von Kaler said. “We actually serve the people.”
All those who work in the kitchen must have a food handler’s license from the health department, which requires attending a two-hour class, according to von Kaler. “We always need cooks,” he said.
Servers require no special training and come from local groups, churches and schools. God’s Bread Basket also is a place for completing community service hours.
In addition to the meal, there is a table with donations of bread and sweets from Busch’s Fresh Food Market and Jerry’s Market. Volunteers pick up the donations on a daily basis from the grocery stores.
“Busch’s is very generous to us,” said von Kaler.
Each meal served costs God’s Bread Basket $1.96. Rising food costs and fewer donations are beginning to hurt the organization’s ability to take care of those in need. If donations do not increase, von Kaler expects to be out of business in two years.
“We live on donations,” he said. “That’s our sole income. We’re down this year.”
Volunteers are also needed for the God’s Bread Basket board. “We’re always looking for board members,” said von Kaler. “The more people we have on the board, the more we can do. We need idea people.”
With the cuts in the Michigan Food Assistance Program (FAP) that were made on Nov. 1, families will see less money every month for assistance. Tim Kelly, Director of the Lenawee Family Independence Agency, estimates a loss of $16 for a single person and $33 for a family of three. As of September, there are 15,321 Lenawee County residents receiving food assistance.
“I don’t see a downturn occurring,” Kelly said. “The first place they’ll turn are the pantries and the food service for help.”
Community organizations make a big difference in the fight against hunger. “It’s a tremendous resource to have churches or any organization that is willing to provide food,” said Kelly.
For more information on God’s Bread Basket, visit their FaceBook page or call Jim Closser at 517.442.5464.