By Deb Malewski
Food for area students is available in front of Laura DeLong Realty in downtown Eaton Rapids. It is there to help families with children that usually eat breakfast and lunch at school and are now out of school for at least several weeks due to COVID-19 (coronavirus).
“We’re doing this because a lot of people in the community expressed concern for the kids who would normally be eating two meals at school,” Laura DeLong explained. “We want to provide food for them during this long school break.”
Delong and her family — along with Dowding Industries, Cardboard Prophets, Mack Electric and various individuals in Eaton Rapids — have set up a food distribution point in front of DeLong Realty at 131 S. Main Street. The Little Pantry that was located there is currently under re-construction due to wind damage. Tables are now in use and can accommodate more food. With the lower temperatures, canned goods, dry goods and even perishables are available. But they have been going fast.
“Leave what you can and take what you need,” is the theme of the food give-away project, DeLong explained.
“Ours is an ongoing option that has been there for a few years,” DeLong said. “We just amped it up to support the kids while they’re out of school and until other support is available.
“It felt like a quick and easy way to help. It doesn’t need to be complicated.”
She pointed out that there is little exposure to other people this way, no set hours, and it’s simple to both donate and to pick up the food.
She generally announces on Facebook when the food has been restocked.
“Sometimes people need to grab something just to get by for a few days.”
Abrianna Vazquez stopped by to donate food.
“When my family needed help, people came forward to help us,” Vazquez said. “We want to give back.”
DeLong said the effort is a way for her to give back too.
“It makes me feel good; This is the kind of thing I live for,” DeLong said. “To me, it’s such a small thing — a way to give back to the community that has supported my business.
“The biggest challenge is to have the supply meet the demand,” DeLong added. “We need the help of the entire community to make it work.”
DeLong also asks the community that when they see people with shopping carts overflowing with food not to assume the shoppers are hoarding it for themselves.
“We get mean looks and have to explain ourselves to everyone when we are shopping for the pantry, and we feel guilty,” she said.
How to help
For those who would like to donate, call the Laura DeLong Realty Office at 517-663-2710 or stop by during business hours — which are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Food is available around the clock, while it lasts.
Photo by Deb Malewski
Laura DeLong stands beside a table offering food for families with school children. The food pick up (drop off) is located in front of Laura DeLong Realty in downtown Eaton Rapids.