Q: Is hunger really a problem in Kalamazoo County?

A: 1 in 6 people and 1 in 5 children in Kalamazoo County struggle with hunger on a daily basis.

Q: Who is struggling with hunger in Kalamazoo County?

A: Vulnerable populations, including thousands of local children and seniors, are faced with hunger on a daily basis. In Kalamazoo County, 41% of people are unable to keep up with the cost of living due to unemployment or underemployment.

Q: What does food insecurity mean?

A: According to the USDA, food insecurity is a lack of access to enough nutritious food for an active, healthy lifestyle.

Q: How many individuals does KLF serve daily?

A: Our largest program, the Grocery Pantry Program, serves approximately 700 individuals every day, up to 1000 individuals on very busy days. Forty percent of the people served by our Grocery Pantry Program are under the age of 18.

Q: How is KLF funded?

A: The majority of our donations come from individuals, corporations, and faith-based groups as well as grant-funding from local foundations. Less than three percent of resources come from government funding.

Q: Where does KLF food come from?

A: Approximately 40% of our food comes from the wholesale food market, 40% comes from Feeding America Charitable Network via the Food Bank of South Central Michigan, and the remaining 20% comes from farm donations, community food drives, and grocery store rescue.

Q: How does a person access food from KLF?

A: Anyone in Kalamazoo County can self-declare the need for food once per month via KLF’s dedicated Need Food telephone number and will receive enough for four days. If they need additional food assistance, they need a referral from a caseworker.

Q: How many food orders did KLF serve last year?

A: For the 2014-2015 fiscal year, we served nearly 157,000 food orders to 29,572 unique individuals.

Q: When the economy is improving, why is the need for food increasing?

A: Many factors impact food insecurity including jobs, living wages, education, housing, childcare and rising healthcare costs. An improving economy does not always equate to higher wages or lack of hardship.

Q: Why doesn’t KLF have stricter eligibility requirements? How are you preventing people from cheating the system?

A: We believe that the overwhelming majority of people requesting and receiving KLF services need them. Since clients can call directly for food assistance once every 30 days and can receive additional services more often with caseworker referral, there is little benefit to “cheating”. At the end of the day, feeding local people is our primary concern and where we spend our energy. Our practices allow us to assist the working-poor who don’t qualify for SNAP benefits and other people who aren’t consistently able to put nutritious food on the table.

Q: Why could someone receiving SNAP benefits need KLF’s services?

A: SNAP benefits are income based and dependent upon the number of people per household. While SNAP benefits are a great help to someone in need, they often don’t cover the amount of food a household needs each month.

Q: Don’t food banks only provide high-sodium canned/boxed foods?

A: KLF makes a concerted effort to provide fresh food to clients on a daily basis either through donations from farmers and grocery stores or by purchasing it at wholesale prices. We also stress the importance of low sugar/sodium food donations. In 2015, more than 25% (over 400,000 lbs) of the food clients received was fresh, perishable food.

Q: What is the difference between KLF and Food Bank of South Central Michigan (FBSCM)?

A: FBSCM is a member of the national charitable network Feeding America and procures and distributes food to agencies in an eight county service area, including Kalamazoo County. Kalamazoo Loaves & Fishes (KLF) operates hunger-relief programs specifically in Kalamazoo County, including a network of over 20 pantries, and provides direct service to individuals and families.

Q: Is KLF a religious organization?

A: KLF is registered as an independent non-profit organization without formal ties to any one denomination or faith. Our name originates from Judeo-Christian roots and reflects the beliefs of the those who first initiated our organized community response to local hunger. We believe that nothing should stand between hungry people and food, including their religious beliefs.

Q: Is KLF a government agency?

A: No, we are an independent non-profit governed by a volunteer Board of Directors.

Q: What goes further at KLF: food or fund donations?

A: With our large purchasing power, we are able to stretch every donated dollar into three meals for a person facing food insecurity. However, food donations provide our pantries with the important variety we need.

Q: How much of my financial donation goes to KLF food?

A: Only five percent of your donation goes to administrative costs. The other 95% goes directly to helping people-in-need.

Q: How many people will I feed with my KLF donation?

A: With $1 we can provide a person struggling with hunger enough food for three meals.

Q: How does KLF address hunger on a larger scale?

A: We work on advocacy initiatives, policies, and programs that promote food security at the local, state, and national level. We also participate in Kalamazoo County’s Hunger-Free Coalition, a group of community advocates working together to identify and spearhead projects to end local hunger.

Q: How does KLF collaborate with other agencies on promoting a hunger-free community?

A: Through 71 distribution sites, referral partners, and community members, we collaborate with organizations that share our vision for a hunger-free community.

Q: How does KLF preserve the dignity of those they serve?

KLF’s Grocery Pantry Program aims at operating like a grocery store, with a variety of food options in each of the USDA’s food pyramid categories. Clients can select fresh and non-perishable food that best meets their dietary and cultural needs.

Q: How often can I volunteer for KLF?

A: Our volunteers are the heart and soul of the organization and can pitch in once or become one of our regulars. All volunteers are asked to attend a volunteer orientation held a few times each month prior to their first volunteer session and help in our Call Center, sort food, stock pantry shelves, prep community mailing, and more.

Q: How can I donate to KLF?

A: Monetary donations can be made online at kzoolf.org and checks can be mailed to 901 Portage St, Kalamazoo, MI 49001. To learn how to creatively raise funds for KLF, contact our Resource Development Director, Greta Faworski at greta@kzoolf.org or at 269.488.2617 ext. 208. Food donations can be dropped off at our Portage Street location Mon.-Fri. from 8 am to 3:30 pm.

Q: How can I stay informed about what is going on?

A: Join us on Facebook/Twitter, sign up for our bi-monthly newsletter at kzoolf.org, and check our website frequently for news and information.