The food pantry is nearly empty at Mel Trotter Ministries in downtown Grand Rapids. Courtesy Mel Trotter
A downtown shelter is running out of food for those in need.
The nonprofit Mel Trotter Ministries in Grand Rapids is worried that unless a major increase in non-perishable food donations comes in soon, it may have to restrict the amount of times needy people can come in and receive food, said Cindy Longyne, a Mel Trotter spokesperson.
The long and frigid winter caused more people than usual to turn to Mel Trotter’s food pantry for help.
Typically, Mel Trotter feeds about 125-150 families a week, with most of the food coming from Mel Trotter’s Brown Bag Food Drive.
Longyne said that even with a successful food drive, Mel Trotter’s stewardship and the generous community, the needs created by the winter cost Mel Trotter about four months worth of extra food.
“This year, we actually brought in 40 percent more food than we had before,” Longyne said. “We saw an incredible amount of donations from the city of Grand Rapids. That’s why we were even more surprised that our stock was running row.
“People who come to our pantry typically live on a strict budget, and when you have to pay for heating, that money has to come from another area. We’re seeing that it must have come from that food budget.”
Weekly to monthly
Normally, Mel Trotter’s pantry is open on Thursday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., but if food donations don’t come in, Mel Trotter will open the pantry once a month, Longyne said.
Mel Trotter is asking the community to donate non-perishable food items, particularly fruits, vegetables, proteins, grains and cereals.
The donations can be dropped off at Mel Trotter’s downtown location, at 225 Commerce St. SW, or at any of Mel Trotter’s four thrift stores.
"We have definitely been busy over the winter,” said Dan Elzinga, food pantry coordinator, Mel Trotter Ministries. “As families spend more money on keeping their home warm, other basic needs such as food budgets suffer.
"Without the generous donations of Mel Trotter supporters in the past, we would never have stayed open this long, but right now, we are asking for continued donations from our supporters, so we are able to keep our food pantry doors open.