Feeding America West Michigan is conducting a study on a possible community food center in Benton Harbor. Marketing and Development Director Pattijean McCahill tells WSJM News the organization helps relieve hunger in 40 counties, but right now only has two community centers.
“Of everywhere we service, Benton Harbor has the greatest need, and so we wanted to test the concept,” McCahill said.
A community food center would be a like a grocery store, only instead of paying for food with money, shoppers would pay in points allotted to them based on family size. Those who are at or below 200% of the federal poverty level would qualify. McCahill says the model is relatively recent.
“Nationally, people are looking at how we can better serve neighbors in need with new ways of getting people food outside of the traditional pantry model,” McCahill said.
McCahill says the center would be supported with donations and with purchased food so it has a consistent inventory. A possible location for the food center would be the Calvin Britain school. Two town halls are set for this month to discuss the idea. They will be October 18 from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. at the Benton Harbor Public Library and October 30 from 5:30 to 7 at Kinexus.