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food pantry

Courtesy of Olivia Johnson

College expenses are rising. There’s no doubt about that.

Trying to pay for tuition, books, a place to live and more can stretch a budget to its breaking point.

Olivia Johnson, a criminal justice student at Ferris State University, knows that struggle, and she’s seen it on campus.

That’s why she started the Student Emergency Food Pantry for Ferris students this year.

Andrew Steiner / Feeding America West Michigan

Michigan is boosting efforts to provide healthy food to Flint residents amid the city's crisis with lead-tainted water.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality announced Thursday it's awarding $100,000 to Feeding America West Michigan.

Feeding America West Michigan’s Andrew Steiner says they knew there was a food processor north of Grand Rapids willing to donate frozen produce; squash, blueberries, cherries, asparagus and more.

“The amount of food that Arbre Farms was able to donate was actually more than we were able to handle,” Steiner said.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new program is underway to get fresh produce to people affected by Flint’s drinking water crisis.

Foods rich in calcium, vitamin C, and iron can help mitigate the effects of lead exposure. But many Flint residents don’t have easy access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

Starting this week, the state and the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan are sending more than 100 truckloads of healthy food to local food pantries that serve parts of Flint that have limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new report says one in seven Americans gets some of their food from the nation’s food banks.

The Hunger in America study finds demand remains high at the nation’s food banks despite an improving economy. Demand is high in Michigan as well.

Gleaners Food Bank

People on the front lines of food insecurity in suburban Detroit say things are grim: demand is growing as federal and state food programs are cut.

In Macomb County, anti-hunger advocates are overwhelmed with need. The number of people needing emergency food assistance has almost doubled between 2008 and 2010.

John Kastler is with Gleaners Community Food Bank. He said those funds, particularly from the federal government, “really did make it a lot easier to stock the pantries and put food on the table.”

“And when you talk about these programs being cut and the funding disappearing…it really does put people in crisis,” Kastler said.

Sue Figurski, coordinator of the Macomb Food Program, said the state’s recent decision to implement an asset test for food stamp applicants has put even more strain on food pantries--and proved a degrading process for many seeking help.

“Do you think anybody really and truly wants to be on food stamps? Not be able to take care of their family? Not the people we talk to,” Figurski said.

Last month, Macomb County officials started a Food Policy Council to deal with the problem of growing hunger and declining resources.