As part of the Fish & Loaves Community Food Pantry’s nearly 13-year commitment to “Ensuring No One Goes Hungry” and improving access to healthy and nutritious food, the pantry has debuted its Saturday Fresh Market.
The Fresh Market is in operation from 9:30 a.m. to noon on Saturdays at the pantry, located at 25670 Northline Road in Taylor. The weekend market does not replace the regular hours and days of service at the pantry, but adds to the total hours and days of operation, said Fish & Loaves Executive Director Mary Hollens.
The Saturday Fresh Market is designed to help those with low incomes who work and cannot fit into standard weekday pantry hours. Hollens said the market will fill the need for fresh produce and basic foods such as eggs, milk, a variety of fresh fruits and other items.
Fish & Loaves is a nonprofit, client-choice food pantry “Ensuring No One Goes Hungry” in the communities of Southgate, Allen Park, Brownstown Township, Dearborn Heights, Romulus, Taylor and Woodhaven.
Each month, Fish & Loaves sees hundreds of children under the age of 18 come through the pantry doors with their families. Last year, the pantry welcomed 16,000 individuals, continuing to prove there is a need. The need has grown through the COVID-19 global pandemic and additional unemployment. By reconfiguring the pantry for Saturdays, Hollens said, Fish & Loaves will help more families and individuals.
The Fresh Market start is made possible by a generous donation from the 2/42 Community Church Taylor Campus. Fish & Loaves spends $20,000 to $25,000 every month on food purchases. With the addition of Saturday hours, clients can visit every weekend, with no appointment needed, and pick up food.
Still hosted by volunteers, the 2 ½ hour Saturday Fresh Market will help those who need a little help. Visitors will simply drive up to the pantry and take home a container of fresh produce and other goods. Because of the shorter hours on Saturday, Hollens said, it will help Fish & Loaves recruit volunteers who may have a bit of time to help out at the Fresh Market over the weekend.
Hollens said Fish & Loaves plans to reach out to companies and community groups to volunteer on a Saturday and will brand the market on that day for their organization.
Linda, a Fish & Loaves client who attended the Fresh Market open. called the new weekend distribution “a true blessing that provides more than I expected and exactly what I needed: Fresh produce.”
Fish & Loaves’ food partners on the Saturday Fresh Market are Gleaners Community Foodbank, Forgotten Harvest and the Ford Fund, which has supplied transportation to pick up food for the market. Thanks to the Meijer “Simply Give” program and support from friends of Fish & Loaves, pantry volunteers are using Meijer gift cards to purchase eggs that are not always available at the pantry.
Hollens said it is important to have access to fresh, affordable food. Besides the obvious reasons, such as wanting to eat something fresh, the reasons for the importance of food that is both fresh and affordable are vast. Some of these reasons include:
• Lack of access to fresh food contributes to overeating and obesity.
• Lack of access to affordable food options leads to the overconsumption of fast-food products, also leading to obesity and other health conditions.
• In some cases, a lack of access to good food options can lead to a sacrifice in nutrition, also contributing to health conditions.
• A good and healthy balanced diet must consist of a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.
• Bad food choices can add to unusually high levels of stress and poor mental health – even a proliferation of violence in some cases.
• Studies have linked food insecurity with concentrations of less physical activity, further degrading health.