Impact Story: Fresh Produce Makes a Difference

Every year, Greater Lansing Food Bank distributes 2.5 million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to promote good health for individuals and families. GLFB would not be able to reach everyone in need without the help of the 140+ partner agencies in our network, one of which is Allen Neighborhood Center (ANC). Open from 1-5 p.m. every Monday, the Breadbasket Food Pantry is an integral part of ANC and our community.

“The food pantry is one of [ANC’s] oldest programs,” Julia Kramer, ANC Farmers Market and Breadbasket Food Pantry Manager (pictured right), says. “It was called ‘Breadbasket’ because we only did bread at first.” Today, the majority of items you can find at the Breadbasket Food Pantry are fresh fruits and vegetables straight from the Greater Lansing Food Bank warehouse.

“We usually go around 11, to the warehouse, to pick stuff up so its super fresh right at 1”, Julia says. “We bring it in, set it up and start immediately, so it’s all fresh.”

Though there are many regular “neighbors” (used to describe pantry attendees instead of “clients”), Julia adds that it has its pros and cons. “Obviously we don’t want to see people who are chronically food insecure, but it gives us a chance to get to know them and develop a relationship with them,” she says.

Many neighbors who come to the pantry are working if they are able to, oftentimes struggling with medical or financial issues, and are grateful to get whatever food they can. Julia says, “There’s been a lot of folks who have come through with specific medical issues that food can help with; they have said that this is their only source of fresh fruits and vegetables.” Having the weekly access to fresh produce that they didn’t have before, neighbors have also reported things like being able to go off or cut down on medication and losing or maintaining healthy weight.

Focused on creating a neighborly place, Julia shared stories of neighbors helping one another. A few weeks ago, a neighbor gave a pair of his own shoes to another neighbor in need after having a conversation about not being able to afford shoes. “The connections that are forging between people are just as important as the nutritious food that they’re getting,” Julia says.

The pantry also helps to provide healthy snacks for seniors and youth during programs tailored specifically for them. “Just having access to the large volume of fresh produce that we wouldn’t have access to otherwise, obviously, that makes a big impact on people,” Julia says. “We really appreciate the continuous community support and the partnership with GLFB.”

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