By Jim Duflo
What has been going on with the Feeding America food distributions here in Newberry? I’m so happy you asked! NAMA (Newberry Area Ministerial Association) wants to first and foremost say: thank you! Thank you to all the volunteers, individuals and businesses that helped or donated during our 2021 food distributions. These distributions happen no matter what the weather is like outside: rain, shine, cold or hot, we have experienced all of it.
We also want you to know that you don’t have to wait for the Feeding America Mobile trucks to come if you need food. You can find food pantries near you at feedwm.org; there are five pantries listed within 25 miles of our area. The Luce County LINK here in Newberry is one of those food pantries registered through Feeding America.
Feeding America Mobile trucks and The Luce County LINK food pantry are separate. The LINK offers food boxes daily; stop in Monday through Friday and let them know you need food. The mobile trucks are once a month as a drive through distribution brought to you by NAMA.
Just before COVID caused the country to go into shut-down mode in 2020, we were serving an average of about 350-400 individuals or 150 to 200 households per food distribution.
Then in March 2020 we saw it surge to almost 600 households. Even with COVID, we came up with ways to continue the distributions with the drive through method. We served people from Mackinac Island to Manistique, covering some 17+ communities at times. The number of households we serve has come down since the surge. We now serve on average 300-350 households per month.
In 2020 we served a total of 4,330 households totaling some 9,033 individuals. Then in 2021 we served a total of 3,712 households totaling 7,773 individuals. That’s around 142,054 pounds of product from Feeding America in 2021.
One issue we ran into in 2021 was the scheduling of mobile food trucks. This was due to the lack of enough drivers to cover the mobile distributions across both peninsulas. We had to become creative by ordering cases of food to continue to give out food boxes for those months we could not get a truck.
So who pays for the food and trucks to come? Great question, as the food and trucks are not completely free. NAMA has been paying for the trucks through grant monies and financial donations from individuals and businesses since 2020.
In 2020 and 2021, some of the trucks we received were paid for through emergency state/federal funding along with donations from large corporations who gave directly to Feeding America during the pandemic. In 2021 the cost for one 15,000-pound truck of food was $1,500.00.
We just finished our first 2022 food distribution and served another 250 households totaling some 525 individuals from 14 communities.
Looking forward, NAMA will be using the last of our grant and donation monies for the next couple trucks.
We are now asking the community for assistance to help us continue to pay for future trucks for 2022. Each truck scheduled for 2022 will feed between 275-350 households at a cost of $1350.00 per truck or $16,200 for the year.
How can you help? You can make a financial donation directly to NAMA, by making checks or money orders to NAMA and in the memo Feeding America Mobile and mail them to P.O. Box 443 Newberry, MI 49868 or drop off at your local church. Thank you again as we look forward to continue serving our communities!