Q: Who is struggling with hunger in Kalamazoo County?

A: Vulnerable populations, including nearly 9,000 local children as well as seniors seniors, struggle with food insecurity each day in Kalamazoo County.

Q: What is food insecurity?

A: Food insecurity is the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.

Q: How many individuals does KLF serve daily?

A: Our Grocery Pantry Program (GPP), the largest of our five food programs, serves 500-600 people per day. Prior to COVID-19, the GPP operated out of 30 countywide pantries, but due to restrictions and the fact that many of the volunteers who operate our pantries are in the "at risk" age category, the program now operates out of just a handful of its original locations.

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 30% of our food comes from the wholesale food market, 25% comes from Feeding America Charitable Food Network, 7% comes via a federal food program for seniors, and the remaining 38% comes from farm donations, food drives, and grocery store food rescue.

Q: How has KLF changed its service model to fight hunger during the pandemic?

A: To keep clients, volunteers, and staff safe during the pandemic, we retooled our Grocery Pantry Program. We fill daily food orders with pre-packed food boxes that include both fresh and perishable food for curbside pick-up only. We increased the number of Caseworker Program food pick-ups each day so caseworkers can deliver food to their clients. Additionally, our staff now schedules up to 15 home deliveries per day for those who may not have access to a social worker or transportation, but still need food.

Through our work with community partners, we've been able to schedule additional Mobile Food Initiatives that supply supplemental groceries in pre-packed boxes at prescheduled locations throughout the county. We also continue to provide food to agencies in town that provide hot, ready-to-eat meals to their clients or residents.

Q: How does a person access food from KLF via the Pantry Program?

A: Anyone in Kalamazoo County can self-declare the need for food twice per calendar month via KLF's dedicated Need Food (269.343.3663) telephone number and will receive enough for four days (for a total of 24 serves per calendar year).

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

A: For the 2018-2019 fiscal year, we served nearly 147,000 four-day food orders to over 28,000 unique individuals.

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

A: Many factors impact food insecurity including jobs, underemployment, education, housing, childcare, and rising healthcare costs. An improving economy does not always equate to higher wages or a 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 on a monthly basis, or utilize our Mobile Food Initiative, 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. Our top distributed food items in our 2018-2019 fiscal year were proteins and fresh produce!

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 their service area, including Kalamazoo County. Kalamazoo Loaves & Fishes operates hunger-relief programs specifically in Kalamazoo County, including a network of pantries, and provides direct, tailored services 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 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 to meet the food requirements clients may need due to a medical condition, allergies, or religious beliefs.

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

A: Only 8 percent of your donation goes to administrative costs. The other 92% 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 nutritionally-balanced food for three full 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 83 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?

A: KLF's Grocery Pantry Program aims at operating as a grocery store, with a variety of food options in each of the USDA's MyPlate categories. Clients have access to fresh and non-perishable food to meets dietary and cultural needs. KLF also strives to provide food to clients in multiple ways (at our pantries, through Mobile Food Initiatives, via home delivery, and more) to try to meet people where they're at rather than having a one-size-fits-all model.

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. Those interested in volunteering are asked to familiarize themselves with our updated COVID-19 policies prior to getting in contact with Ray our Volunteer Coordinator about how they can get involved.

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 Senior Director of Resource Development, 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 8:30 am to 3:30 pm.

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

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