When Godfrey-Lee Public Schools teachers chipped in to pay for two Feeding America Mobile Food Pantry trucks to help feed the community last school year, the response was huge.
Parents and community members lined up for the fresh bread, produce and other food items, stocking their cupboards to last through Spring Break.
Nazlhy Heredia, Kent School Services Network community school coordinator, saw the need it filled in the high-poverty community and sought help from Feeding America to continue the service regularly. “There was such a big turnout and our families were so happy,” she said.
Now, thanks to a statewide grant, the food truck will be stationed in the district on the first Tuesday of each month, supplying the community with 7,500 pounds of food each visit for the next 13 months.
The truck will be stationed at Lee High-Middle School, except for during the winter months when it will park at Lee Street Christian Reformed Church so people can stay warm inside the church while waiting.
In the one-square-mile, mostly Hispanic Godfrey-Lee community; 34 percent of people live in households that earn incomes below the poverty line. In the district, about 90 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.
Lee High School is one of 28 sites including schools and senior centers to benefit from the Food Bank Council of Michigan grant, which is distributed by Feeding America, said Elianna Bootzin, school mobile pantry coordinator for the organization.
Other sites include: Grand Rapids Public Schools’ Brookside, Dickinson, East Leonard, Harrison Park, Sibley, Stocking and Kent Hills elementary schools and Innovation Central, Union and University Prep high schools; Parkview Elementary in Wyoming Public Schools and North and West Godwin elementary schools (where a truck will alternate each month between the Godwin Heights Public Schools buildings).
“We are not going to have to pay a penny,” said Heredia, noting that teachers scraped together money to pay the $495 fees for food trucks last year.