By Richard Karns

AARP Chapter No. 2418 Publicity Director

REED CITY — Local AARP Chapter No. 2418 hosted Robert Pooley, director of the Reed City Area Ministerial Association Food Pantry, for its monthly meeting on June 14.

Pooley told AARP members the food pantry is more than just an opportunity to volunteer — it is a ministry doing God’s work.

Pooley, who volunteers approximately 20 hours a week at the food pantry, discussed how it’s important for him and the other volunteers who comprise the staff, to treat individuals in need of help from the food pantry with dignity.

Pooley said individuals do not receive food that is outdated; the food maybe wouldn’t hurt anyone, but the food value and taste is lost. Every family that comes to the pantry is given food. If they are from out of the area, Pooley said, they are given food at that time but are directed to the pantry in their area. Pooley said other food pantries are located in Marion, Sears and Tustin. Trinity Lutheran Church in Reed City also has a personal care pantry which provides miscellaneous items, including toothpaste/brushes, shampoo, toilet paper, etc.

Families are allowed to the come to the food pantry six times a year; if there is a greater need to received more often, those families are screened by Love In the Name of Christ, Pooley said. Each family is given enough food for seven meals. Pooley explained to members meals could be made up of breakfast cereal, milk, sugar, juice and a loaf of bread, as well as butter.

When a family registers for the food pantry, they fill out information on how many members are in the family and their dates of birth. For the birthday month, Pooley explained, the family will be offered a birthday bag for children 12 and younger. The bag will include cake mixes, eggs, vegetable oil or applesauce for a substitute, candles and a small gift.

For those wishing to donate food items, Pooley suggested vegetable oil and soups (tomato, cream of mushroom and chicken noodle). Although the pantry does provide some fruit, Pooley said they always need applesauce, pears and peaches.

Pooley also shared eye-opening data with AARP members. In May 2017, the food pantry served 124 families, which equates to 440 individuals. The food pantry receives 4.5 tons of food every month from Feeding America and annually spends $40,000 on food. The money comes from financial donations of local individuals, organizations, churches and through grants from the Osceola County Community Foundation, Chemical Bank and Cargill Salt.

For more information about volunteering at the food pantry, call Reed City St. Paul Lutheran Church at (231) 832-9541.

Local Chapter No. 2418 of Midwestern Michigan AARP meets at noon on the second Wednesday of every month at the Reed City United Methodist Church. The public is invited to the meetings.