When you walk into The Market (formerly the Food Pantry) you won’t see shelves of macaroni and cheese, Pop-Tarts, Fruit Loops, and Ramen noodles. Instead you’ll see a counter of fresh produce and shelves of whole grain pasta, dried beans, and low-sugar cereals.
North Kent Connect made this institutional change for our families because we care about their well-being. We heard from clients that they appreciated pantries with fresh food, lean proteins, and dairy. We knew from experience that these types of items flew off the shelves. We learned from research that low-income families tend to experience more health issues like high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. With this in mind, we made the switch from a traditional food pantry to The Market – a food pantry that offers healthy food to families who need it the most.
Abby, a North Kent Connect client, was thrilled to see the new items that are available to her family. “The food I got from The Market today was amazing! My family eats a lot of produce, so it was a huge blessing.” Michelle, another client, said, “I love that North Kent is giving us healthy food. These things are expensive at the store, and it helps to get them for free.”
Help us provide these nutritious foods for our clients. We’re looking for fresh produce, lean proteins, dairy products, whole grains, and low-sugar cereals.
The Farm Stand provides locally grown produce to anyone in the community 300% at or below the Federal Poverty Guideline at half the cost. This is made possible through a collaborative partnership with Access of West Michigan and four other pantries in Kent County. Heart of West Michigan United Way funds this project.
The Farm Stand is located in the North Kent Connect Store and is available when The Market is closed.
HEALTHY FOOD POLICY
North Kent Connect believes that all residents of northern Kent County have the right to access healthy and affordable food. We are committed to developing, collaborating with, and supporting local, sustainable, just, and equitable food programs that provide fresh, whole, healthy, and affordable food to our community.
North Kent Connect Will…
- Follow the Dietary Guidelines for Healthy Americans.
- Eliminate highly-processed, high sodium, high fat, and high sugary foods from our food programs.
- Focus on providing whole food options.
- Focus on providing locally-sourced foods when possible.
- Cultivate relationships with local and statewide farmers to glean and sustain our food programs throughout all four seasons.
- Offer educational programming that supports a healthy lifestyle.
- Educate our donors on the importance of providing accessible and healthy food options to all members of the community.
- Provide a specific wish list of food items to donors.
- Provide food samples along with recipes that utilize our current food inventory.
- Connect community members to free or affordable family-friendly activities that promote health and wellness.
- Provide opportunities to connect community members with local farmers.
- Incorporate and support environmentally-safe and eco-friendly practices.
- Support community leaders who advocate for increased access to healthy food and healthy food policies.
- Support fair and equitable growing practices.
North Kent Connect’s Commitment to Long-term Change
We are committed to addressing the root causes of hunger through the following actions:
- Provide a pathway to livable-wage employment or furthered education opportunities.
- Encourage asset-building opportunities.
- Address the barriers created by lack of public transportation in northern Kent County.
- Advocate for living wages.
- Advocate for affordable housing in northern Kent County.