Okemos Food Pantry Supporting Community During Difficult Times
OKEMOS - The Okemos Food Pantry, operating under the umbrella of the Greater Lansing Food Bank, serves those in the Okemos community. The pantry is located at the Okemos Community Church, however, Beth Baldwin, Church Manager and Food Pantry Director, emphasizes that it is not only offered to members of the church.
“We look at it more as we are not a church pantry, but we are a community pantry,” she said. So we're housed in the church, but we are actually partnered with this community.”
The pantry offers anything from dry goods to refrigerated items, and even personal items like cleaning supplies and toiletries. There is a cart located outside of the church doors where people can come by and drop off donations during the church’s office hours.
However, like most things, the food pantry’s operation was altered after the start of the pandemic. In the past, those utilizing the pantry would go inside the building and select the items they needed. Now, the pantry operates using a drive-up service.
The food pantry provides its weekly services on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Interested residents speak with a pantry volunteer ahead of time and select what items they need from what is available. Then, the residents show up at their selected pick-up times, and a volunteer brings out the selected items to their vehicles.
Amidst the economic struggles faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, food pantries are needed now more than ever.
“Over the last year you've got a lot of people who haven't used pantries before who are now needing to,” Baldwin said. “We're seeing more professionals who have lost their jobs due to covid, or maybe a single parent who has to stay home now, because they've got small children who are doing online schooling.”
The pantry is always needing and appreciating donations, and Beth Baldwin is grateful for the continuous support from the community.
“It comes back to us,” she said. “So that's been really heartwarming how much the community wants to contribute.”