Food access during COVID-19 in St. Joseph County

Categories:Story
Ale Crevier

In an effort to jump start our food security efforts during the COVID-19 crisis, we have been busy planting seedlings for The Huss Project Farm. As food shortages, lack of finances, and unpredictable weather patterns become a larger factor for many folks, we live in the hope that spring will offer us the soil, water and warmth needed to plant food for our community. Last year, we harvested over 2,000 pounds of produce for local distribution sites and the Three Rivers Farmers Market; we’re working to continue these programs throughout the summer of 2020.

AT HOME TIPS

  • Give us a call if you are looking for gardening tips, we would love to help.
  • If, like us, you desire a tasty and frugal dinner, we recommend Leanne Brown’s Good and Cheap recipe book. The book offers inexpensive, beautiful meals that don’t require loads of shopping runs or effort, and are perfect for your sheltering-in-place needs. Las recetas del libro Bueno y Barrato también está disponible aquí en español.

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE

Check out our recent article with inquiries into local financial help, particularly regarding food needs. Check “STATE ASSISTANCE” for further assistance details.

LOCAL GROCERY STORES

Check your local grocery stores on what health codes they are following at this time, along with what times are best to shop according to your health needs. Some stores are setting hours aside exclusively for high risk individuals. If you do not use food stamps, please consider shopping later in the month as the first days of the month are critical for food stamp shoppers. Below are a few grocery stores’ responses to the virus:

  • Aldi
  • Meijer: Meijer is currently not accepting bottle returns or reusable grocery bags at this time. At some locations, they are setting exclusive hours aside for high risk individuals to shop.
  • Three Rivers MI Restaurants/Bars

SCHOOLS

Under the Unanticipated School Closure Summer Food Service Program, The Three Rivers Community Schools (TRCS) are distributing breakfast and lunches to children 18 or younger.  Grab & Go bags of two breakfast meals and two lunch meals can be picked up in drive-thru form at Hoppin Elementary, Andrews Elementary and the Three Rivers High School. Check the TRCS Food Site or the MI Department of Education for specific dates, times and locations as information will vary in the coming weeks. Please call 269.279.1100 or email rmoag@trschools.org for questions or concerns.

LOCAL FOOD BANKS

To find your local food bank, go to feedingamerica.org and enter your zipcode. Many local food banks are loosening eligibility restrictions at this time. Food banks’ availability will vary and we will update accordingly.

  • The Three Rivers Food Site located behind Lowry’s will be open Tuesday and Thursday, 9am-12pm. Please call ahead of time at 269-273-2147 to pick up food.
  • The Fresh Food Initiative (FFI) is distributing pre-boxed food to various locations in the county by drive-thru only. The schedule and locations are listed here. Please be aware that the boxes are supplemental help and are not meant to sustain families throughout the month.  The FFI is sponsored by Centreville Seventh Day Adventist Church, United Way, SJC Sheriff’s Department, and South Michigan Food Bank.
  • The United Community Assistance Program (UCAP) is providing food cards and bagged groceries by appointment ONLY on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. Call 269-244-4599 to make an appointment.
  • New Hope Food Pantry is open Tuesday through Friday, 8am-4pm. Call 30 minutes ahead of time at 269-278-8135.
  • Immaculate Conception Food Pantry is open M, T, W, F 8am-12pm and 1pm-4pm. Call 269-273-8953 for assistance.

FARMER’S MARKETS

The Three Rivers Farmer’s Market will be open June 4-September 30, on Thursdays at 2pm-6pm, and is located at at Scidmore Park, 138 West Michigan Avenue. The market accepts SNAP and Double Up Food Bucks.

Double Up Food Bucks

  • “The Program: Families can enroll in the Food Assistance Program to double their food dollars to spend on fruits and vegetables. During the COVID-19 crisis, many stores that participate in Double Up Food Bucks have suspended the $20 per day spending limit.
  • Eligibility Requirements: Families with Bridge Cards can shop at participating stores.
  • How to Access: Spartan Nash stores, which include Family Fare, VG’s and ValuLand, have increased their Double Up Food Bucks spending limit to $50 per day, and other stores also may have changed the sending limit. The Double Up Food Bucks online database allows you to search for a participating store near you. Some stores may have changed their hours of operation during the coronavirus pandemic, so it’s best to call ahead for more details.” – Found on the Michigan COVID-19 Pandemic Resource Guide

STATE ASSISTANCE

As of March 27, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has recently loosened federal eligibility restrictions making it possible for 350,000 families to have better access to food assistance during this crisis. See the state’s official press release and apply online to newmibridges.michigan.gov for further guidance.

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