July 16 08:28 AM

Neighbors helping neighbors

Community, Four County Community Foundation, keep St. Paul's Food for Families program going strong in Imlay

St. Paul's Food for Families volunteers Kathy Eschenburg, Cynthia Stroebel, Linda Surma, Marilyn Seidell, Connie Frank, Kay Hendricksen, Lorna Warner, Marge DeYonker, Nancy Schiller and program co-director Wes Davis express gratitude to Four County Community Foundation for their financial support in keeping the doors open this summer. photo by Catherine Minolli.

July 10, 2019
IMLAY CITY — Twice a week a group of dedicated volunteers make sure those in need have enough to eat.

Week in and week out, this group accomplishes their goal with the help of a supportive community, generous donors, and the steady assistance of the Four County Community Foundation (4CCF).

They're the people who make up the St. Paul's Food for Families program at St. Paul's Lutheran Church.

Coordinated by volunteers Wes Davis and Marge DeYonker, the program serves anywhere from 60 to 80 people each Monday and Wednesday when the kitchen is


Davis says this would not be possible without all of the community support, including a $3,100 grant from 4CCF that came just in time.

"This grant keeps our kitchen and pantry shelves filled for the months of May, June and July," he says. "It means the world to us because we couldn't go on without it."

Those much appreciated dollars go far for the Food for Families program, Davis adds.

"For every dollar they give us, it's like six dollars at the Northeastern Food Bank, which is where we are able to buy much of the food," Davis says.

What they can't purchase at the food bank, they purchase locally, he adds.

Food sources also come via donations from the 4-H program at the Eastern Michigan State Fair. Davis says every year someone donates a few pigs or beef, and usually the 4-Hers themselves donate a pig or a lamb.

People also donate cash, Davis adds. Members of the church and/or people off the street often come in to the kitchen to hand off bills.

"I've had people hand me a hundred dollars saying keep doing what you're doing, we appreciate it," Davis says. "The community really backs us, and we really appreciate it."

Davis says the kitchen's clients include a wide range of people from all walks of life.

"We have families that come in, and a lot of elderly people that come in as well," he says. "We've had quite a few homeless people come in, and people of all ages."

Volunteers plan to serve 60 to 80 people at every meal. Davis says that number goes up to 100 or more around the holidays.

He says the Food for Families volunteers don't waste a thing. If there are leftovers, they're packaged and refrigerated to passed along as take-out meals.

The St. Paul's Food for Families program has been serving those in need around the area for the past 12 years, and Davis says the program's been a big success.

"We couldn't do it without all the community support, especially from Four County, which has helped us out many times over the years," he says.

The St. Paul's Lutheran Church Food for Families kitchen is open every Monday and Wednesday afternoon from 4:30-5:30 p.m. Visitors also have an opportunity to "shop" from the program's food pantry.

Once a month, volunteers also take part in a 'Mass Feeding,' where boxes filled with food are handed out to about 200 families. Each distribution involves anywhere from 1,300 to 1,800 pounds of food, Davis says.

For more information or to volunteer or make a donation, call St. Paul's at 810-724-1200. The church is located at 200 N. Cedar Street (M-53), Imlay City.

Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.
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