2018-10-11 / Living

Local families blessed by food truck

By Tanya Terry
810-452-2645 • tterry@mihomepaper.com

BURTON — Families from three Burton school districts were beyond blessed by a food truck parked at Our Risen Lord Lutheran Church recently.

The Food Bank of Eastern Michigan has trucks of food made available for a reasonable cost when they have excess produce. The organization also always has lots of baked goods. So, Bentley Community Schools food pantry workers decided this was an opportunity to give away more food than they do at the district’s pantry.

“I knew Bentley couldn’t get rid of that much food, so I invited Bendle and Atherton and invited The Prayer Shack to invite their people as well,” said Lisa Gaby, student and community resource coordinator for Bentley Community Schools.

Gaby said anytime an opportunity presents itself to help serve local families she’s all for it, especially because she said produce is pricier.

“When families are struggling, produce is one of the last things they typically purchase because of the expense involved,” she said.

The Food Bank of Eastern Michigan has an outreach coordinator, Trina Balow, who helped Gaby organize the event.

Gaby has done similar work for Bentley on a smaller scale for four years in the food pantry. There are very few schools in Genesee County that have food pantries working directly with the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan. Since Gaby has been at Bentley, she has expanded the district’s food pantry. About 50 families have utilized the pantry, with 25 showing up monthly.

Fundraisers are done for the Bentley’s food pantry throughout the year and food is purchased from the food bank.

“Of course, the Bentley families are close to my heart because I’ve been working with them for years,” Gaby said. “But, when we first starting talking about this, I was told the food bank would have boxes of food for 400 people.”

Although all the advertising for the event said the event started at 9 a.m., cars were lined up by 7:45 a.m.

“I assumed the people who were there at that time were helpers when I saw them,” Gaby said. “Then, I realized they were people who were already in line waiting. I just think that’s kind of an eye opener to the need that is present out there.”

An older female ran out of gas while waiting in line. Members of the community rallied together to help her.

“That was really awesome,” Gaby said.

Volunteers were absolutely necessary, according to Gaby. The food bank outreach coordinator reached out to former city councilman Steve Hatfield, who is involved with the Burton Kiwanis. Hatfield reached out to other Kiwanis members, who were willing to help. Our Risen Lord Church members also donated their time. Members of the Bentley National Honors Society lent a hand. The principal from Atherton Elementary School, an Atherton social worker and another helper from Atherton came to help distribute the food.

“We needed them all,” Gaby said. “Seven hundred and thirty-one people were served that day. We had only started talking about this only two weeks before it happened and didn’t advertise until two days before the event. If something like this could happen every month, with the districts continuing to work together, it would be awesome.”

Since a traffic jam was caused, Gaby said next time families would likely be served at in Bentley Schools’ parking lot.

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