By Phil Grimwood
– Guest Columnist
Helping Hands Food Pantry has just completed a whirlwind of a year. In April 2019, we broke ground at 621 Jefferson St. in Charlotte, and on Oct.15, we began operating from our wonderful new facility.
Designed specifically for use as a food pantry, the new building is everything we hoped it would be. We have three times as much space, an ample parking lot, private offices for meeting with clients, storage all on one level and many more features to better serve our clients. The new facility has, without a doubt, made it possible to continue helping the most vulnerable of our community for many years to come.
Nearly two dozen contractors and businesses were involved in this project — almost all of them local. Not surprisingly, after making the building slightly larger and adding a few upgrades, the entire project cost a bit more than we originally planned, with a final cost of $375,000. But because of the generosity of local people, as well as a substantial grant from the community foundation, we are within $50,000 of being entirely debt-free, which is a major component of our long-term sustainability plan. We are confident that our supporters will continue to help us to meet the goal of erasing that debt.
For the year 2019, we honored 6,000 requests for assistance and distributed 624,000 pounds of food and personal care items (about 520,000 meals) free of charge. In another first for Helping Hands, according to Feeding America, the wholesale value of that product exceeded $1 million.
Because most of our food comes from the Greater Lansing Food Bank, our actual cost for $1 million-worth of food is less than 10 percent of that amount. Just $25 provides a family of four with about a week’s worth of milk, meat, cereal, canned goods, fresh produce, baked goods and other staples as well as toiletries.
We are thankful as we face 2020 that God has provided us with 35 volunteers, seven board members, a generous community and the tools to get the job done effectively and efficiently. We welcome your donations to tackle the harsh reality of food insecurity within our community. You may mail gifts to Helping Hands, 621 Jefferson St. in Charlotte, or give online at helpinghandsfoodpantry.org.
If you missed our open house in November and have not yet had the opportunity to check out the new building, I encourage you to contact us to arrange a tour. Feel free to call me at 517-231-2205 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your continued support.
Phil Grimwood is the director of Helping Hands Food Pantry.