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March 13, 2013

Local food pantries benefit from Meijer Simply Give program

By Mary Beth Almond
C & G Staff Writer

ROCHESTER — Recent donations from the Rochester Hills Meijer has allowed two local food pantries to refill their shelves.

The store recently offered $10 donation cards to its shoppers at special displays throughout the store, located at Auburn and Rochester roads, as part of the Meijer Simply Give food donation program. At the end of the program, Simply Give donation cards were converted into Meijer Gift cards and given to local food pantries, selected by the store. To help seed the program, Meijer matched all of the donations.

As part of the program, the Rochester Community House received $3,960, which Director Mary Lee Kowalczyk said would be used to support its Community Kitchen and Sunday Dinner programs.

The organization’s Community Kitchen program distributes bags of emergency groceries to those in need from its back door each week. Due to the demand for food, Kowalczyk said the Community Kitchen’s shelves are often low on much-needed items, which they are able to refill, thanks to the Meijer Simply Give Program.

“The money comes to us in gift cards to shop there, which really is wonderful to us because we buy a lot of our emergency food there for people who come to the back door of the Community House, and we are able to buy food or supplies through those gift cards,” she said.

The Community House also hosts a Sunday Dinner each month, sponsored by local residents and organizations, which allow people in need to be served restaurant-style in the Community House.

“Many times, when we are doing the Community Kitchen Dinners, we’ll run short. It runs about $400 to cook for 200 people … but I’m able to use those gift cards to fill in what I need,” Kowalczyk added.

Rochester Area Neighborhood House received $6,540 as part of the program, which Executive Director Linda Riggs said would be used to help stock the shelves at it’s Food Pantry located at the First Congregational Church in Rochester.

Rochester Area Neighborhood House, a nonprofit dedicated to helping struggling families move toward self-sufficiency, helps more than 2,700 families each year with food, clothing, financial assistance, counseling and more.

Executive Director Linda Riggs said she was “simply thrilled” when she was notified of the donation.

“Meijer has been a fantastic partner and we are encouraged that so many of our neighbors used this program as a way to donate. Meijer has generously donated to our Food Pantry in the past, and we appreciate their commitment to the community,” she said in a statement.

Founded in 1968, Neighborhood House is a private, nonprofit organization that helps families in Rochester, Rochester Hills, Auburn Hills, Oakland Township and Addison Township. It provides emergency financial assistance, counseling, job coaching, budget assistance, transportation, food assistance, clothing assistance and more.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Mary Beth Almond at malmond@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1060.