By Hailey Huffman Tuesday, June 23 at the Rockford American Legion the 57th pantry was held for Operation Cornucopia. Operation Cornucopia works in cooperation with the Feeding America Program at the West Michigan Food Bank. Feeding America is a nationwide network that provides food to people across America and has been the first responder to hunger crisis in America for the last 35 years. The idea behind food banking was developed by John van Hegel of Phoenix, Arizona in the 1960’s. Van Hegel met a mother who had been digging through a trash bin to find food for her children, when she suggested that a place be developed for discarded food to be stored for pick up by families in need. Volunteers from Merritt Lamb Post 102, boy scouts from troops 228, 282, and 283, along with local volunteers and the Rockford Masonic Lodge come together on the last Tuesday of every month to help bag and box food to give to people in need. Clyde Sinclair, commander of Merritt Lamb Post 102 and operation organizer, says on average per month they give away 7,500 pounds of food, which can feed approximately 130 families. Since the beginning of the program in November of 2009, volunteers and businesses among the community have donated around 460,000 pounds of food, an estimated total of $998,200.00 worth of groceries on the table. Members of the Post are quick to agree that it would not have been possible without the help of local community members. Funding and supplies for the pantries not only comes from member donations but from local businesses and civic organizations. Upcoming 2015 event dates include July 28, August 25, September 22, October 27, November 24 and December 22. If you would like to volunteer, please feel free to contact the Merritt Lamb Post at (616) 866-2001.
It seems like yesterday that Dena Rogers of Feeding America Food Bank approached the Rockford American Legion Post and encouraged them to host a mobile food pantry. Though the membership unanimously voted to proceed, little did they realize the impact they would soon have upon the community. The Post has provided fresh fruit, vegetables and other foods to more than 124 families at each of 17 regularly scheduled mobile food pantries since that meeting. Beginning with a 5,000-pound truck, the membership rallied to participate in what would become Operation Cornucopia. On March 22, the total food distributed by the Post reached 103,665 pounds, an estimated total of $224,991.00 worth of groceries on the table. Members of the Post are quick to agree that it would not have been possible without the help of local community members. Funding and supplies for the pantries not only come from member donations but from local businesses and civic organizations. Volunteers from local schools, churches and Boy Scout Troops help make hosting the pantries possible. Members were excited to have students from Algoma Christian School assist them during the March pantry. “As thrilled as we are to be a part of this operation, it wouldn’t bother us a bit if it stopped being necessary tomorrow. However, hunger, like a terrorist, has no regard for a person’s age or sex. It will steal the health of an old man as quickly as from a young girl. As long as hunger is a threat, we need to keep fighting it,” said Clyde Sinclair, commander of the Post.
Feeding America, the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief organization, has teamed up with our local farmers markets again. Every other Saturday, volunteers have collected fresh produce donated by the people taking advantage of all the wonderful locally grown food sold at the Rockford Farmers Market or by the farmers themselves. They helped collect 626 pounds of food on one Saturday! Volunteers are still needed for the October 9 and 23 Rockford Farmers Markets as well as other dates for the Plainfield and Fulton farmers markets. If anyone is interested, please call Nathan O’Connell at (616) 606-2151. According to Feeding America’s statistics, 49 million Americans are facing hunger and 96 billion pounds of food are wasted every year. Be part of the solution!
Twenty-six Rockford Christian School (RCS) junior high students recently participated in the Feeding America event sponsored by the Merritt Lamb American Legion Post 102 in Rockford. Feeding America is the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief charity. Their mission is to feed America’s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks and engage the country in the fight to end hunger. Each year, the Feeding America network provides food to more than 37 million low-income people facing hunger in the United States, including more than14 million children and nearly 3 million seniors. Feeding America has a network of more than 200 food banks to serve all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, securing and distributing more than 2.5 billion pounds of food and grocery products annually. Those member food banks support approximately 63,000 local charitable agencies and 70,000 programs, which provide food directly to individuals and families in need. The teens arrived at the Post and were given a briefing on how to process the food and assist the visitors. When the Feeding America delivery arrived, the students unloaded 5,000 pounds of food from the truck. While the students worked hard unloading the food, approximately 100 families waited patiently and registered for the event. Each family received about 50 pounds of food. The American Legion volunteers gently guided the RCS students and provided a smooth-functioning system for distribution. The students enjoyed meeting the people and talking with them on various topics. Once all the food was distributed, the students helped the Post members tear down and clean up the facility. Many students were grateful for the opportunity to serve and conveyed how meaningful the day was for them personally. The students involved in the Feeding America event were Julia Blanker, Drew Bouwkamp, Audrey Conrad, Lindsey Frontjes, Tristan Fuller, Andrew Holesinger, Kaitlynn Kimmel, Bailey Kolenda, Jake Melton, Nkatha Mwenda, Nathaniel Overmeyer, Beau Redfield, Austin Rumsey, Andrew Schumacher, Hannah Stimac, Zach Terpstra, and Laura Vanderhorst.