Streams of Hope uses good food to bring families together
Streams of Hope Food Center seeks to provide families with an answer to that all-important question, “What’s for dinner?”.
Grand Rapids’ Streams of Hope, an agency of Feeding America West Michigan, offers many programs for kids, adults and families, but the food center is what brings them all together.
Food director Barb Nauta makes sure that family is at the center of their work. Many clients at Streams of Hope are working and in single- or two-parent households that just can’t make ends meet. With low wages and the high cost of healthy food, “they still cannot provide the food they need for their families,” Barb says.
Streams of Hope’s client-choice pantry and Nutritional Options for Wellness (NOW) initiative with Access of West Michigan empower families to eat healthy and live better.
To reach their goal of becoming a 75 percent healthy foods pantry, they partner with organizations like Feeding America West Michigan. Once a week, a truck from Streams of Hope picks up a variety of food for the pantry especially meats, eggs, cheeses and, most importantly, fresh produce.
Barb says that as of Aug. 31, 2016, Feeding America West Michigan had provided over 119,000 pounds of food to Streams of Hope, an amount that helps serve over 450 families each month.
Whether through gardening programs, tutoring, healthy living classes or offering a simple recipe for produce, the goal is to bring families closer together.
“As we look at providing healthier food recipes, we hope that that would equate to family time,” she says. “We’re bringing back the sit-down suppers.”
Streams of Hope is something of a family in its own right. When a client or volunteer walks in the windowed doors, they’re no longer just a name. After a new client is registered, they get paired up with a volunteer who learns their story and becomes a friend.
“What I love about that,” Barb says, “is that they feel they’re part of a family, and feel like someone cares. We give respect in offering the dignity they deserve.”
Judy knows that feeling.
At 70 years old, Judy’s parents and sibling have passed. She says her son disowned her because of her Christian faith. She’s never even met her grandson.
Yet Judy volunteers at Streams of Hope with a warm and gracious smile.
Judy learned of Streams of Hope three years ago through a friend. Living alone on a fixed income and struggling with health issues, she sought an opportunity to get involved in the community.
Now, Judy has a family.