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Food giveaway in Grand Rapids draws hundreds of families amid COVID-19 crisis

Cars lined up
Bryce Huffman
Michigan Radio NPR
Cars lined up to recieve free food at Kent County Community Actiof giveaway

Big crowds came out in Grand Rapids Thursday to get free food from Kent County Community Action.

Susan Cervantes, the Director of Kent County Community Action, says with some parents out of work and kids home from school, free food giveaways can help families stretch their dollars.  

“So to distribute the food right now is having them have a resource that they can build on,” Cervantes said.

With restaurant, bars, salons, and lots of other business shut down indefinitely, lots of families in Grand Rapids are in need. Cervantes says it’s her job to provide that help.

“Helping people in our community is what we’re here for, and in a time like this, we’re going to help as many people in this community as we can,” she said.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of Grand Rapids residents waited in line for hours to get free food for their families. There were lines of cars and residents on foot stretched several blocks down the road.

Shelley Moore, one such resident who waited for more than 2 hours in line with a friend, says the need for food was more important than being tired of waiting.

“Just the need and knowing that we’re going to be off work for a few more months and every little bit helps,” Moore said.

The giveaway drew big crowds of people who were near each other when picking up food. This didn’t stop when the county decided to end up walk up hours and switched to only providing food for the cars that were waiting in line.

Eventually though, when all the cars had gone through, people like Moore and her friend were able to get the last of the food packages. She says she didn’t have time to worry about contracting the virus from the big group of people.

“The need was just way bigger than the fear of coronavirus,” she said.

The county ran out of food a few hours earlier than it expected. But Cervantes says she expects KCCA will do more food giveaways during the COVID-19 crisis.

Bryce Huffman was Michigan Radio’s West Michigan Reporter and host of Same Same Different. He is currently a reporter for Bridge Detroit.
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