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2011-11-27 / Front Page

Five churches in county partner to offer soup kitchens, food pantries

BY JACOB HUNSANGER 810-452-2609  jhunsanger@mihomepaper.com


Donna Kurschat, one of many LICA volunteers, prepares hot food for the weekly soup kitchen meal at the Lapeer Church of Christ in Mayfield Township. The church and four others work together to provide meals to area residents across Lapeer County. 
Photo by JACOB HUNSANGER Donna Kurschat, one of many LICA volunteers, prepares hot food for the weekly soup kitchen meal at the Lapeer Church of Christ in Mayfield Township. The church and four others work together to provide meals to area residents across Lapeer County. Photo by JACOB HUNSANGER LAPEER — The Lapeer Interfaith Community Association (LICA), comprised of five local churches, has been providing food for those in need for more than 20 years. St. Paul Lutheran Church, Grace Episcopal Church, Trinity United Methodist Church, Lapeer Church of Christ and First Presbyterian Church work together all year round to provide a food pantry for families in need and rotate a weekly soup kitchen to give a hot meal to the hungry.

Ann Pfeifle, who runs the soup kitchen and food pantry at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Lapeer, works as chairperson for the LICA group. “Business is booming,” she said, admitting that that’s both good and bad. The soup kitchens are thankful that so many needy people are able to take advantage of the soup kitchens, but also see it as an unfortunate sign that so many are in need.


Debra Slocum, a volunteer, stands in one of two food pantries at the Lapeer Church of Christ, where nonperishable food items are stored for the soup kitchen and food pantry ministries. 
Photo by JACOB HUNSANGER Debra Slocum, a volunteer, stands in one of two food pantries at the Lapeer Church of Christ, where nonperishable food items are stored for the soup kitchen and food pantry ministries. Photo by JACOB HUNSANGER LICA is a member of the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, which provides the necessary items for food pantries in 22 counties in Michigan. The local churches in LICA get nearly 90 percent of their food items from the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, with the rest coming from charitable givers in the area.

LICA also gets large donations of food from area organizations, charities and businesses who hold annual food drives for the churches’ soup kitchen program. Those include the Goodfellows, Boy Scouts, Post Office of Lapeer, Lapeer Regional Medical Center, Chatfield School, Rolland-Warner Middle School and Curves of Lapeer. Debra Slocum at Lapeer Church of Christ said they also get fresh vegetables during the summer from local farmers and others will donate beef or venison in the fall and winter months.

Meijer in Lapeer is currently holding a “Simply Giving” food drive program for LICA. Shoppers at the local Meijer can purchase a $10 gift card in the check out lanes that will be donated to LICA in January to purchase more fresh food items at the store.

The LICA food pantries work in cooperation with Love In the Name of Christ (Love INC) of Greater Lapeer. Families or individuals in need of food can contact Love INC where they go through an intake process and are given a voucher to be used at the food pantries. That voucher allows them to pick up 2-3 weeks worth of food at one of the participating churches. Sue Brady, director of Love INC, said it is important for people to realize that the food pantries exist so that no one goes hungry and people continue to donate food items.

In addition to the food pantries, LICA hosts a soup kitchen program for those in need. The soup kitchens are open five days a week, rotating each day at a different church. The soup kitchen provides a hot meal for anyone in need. Unlike the food pantry program, which requires a voucher from Love INC, the soup kitchens are open to anyone and everyone with no questions asked. “The need is so great right now,” said Pfeifle.

According to the churches, hundreds of local residents attend the soup kitchen meals every week simply looking for a hot meal. Most nights, the churches are able to hand out sack lunches for people to take with them so that they can have a healthy meal for tomorrow. Pfeifle said, “We give out everything we have.”

“It’s a community effort,” added Pfeifle of LICA, “we work together beautifully. It’s been great in Lapeer in that we have worked together.”

Immaculate Conception Catholic Church also runs a food pantry service for those in need, in coordination with the Knights of Columbus. Lawrence Nowodworski started the food pantry at the church in 1990 and today his daughter, Dawn Nowodworski-Peskey organizes the program. The church provides food to people in need once a month giving out enough food for a family to eat for several days. According to Nowodworski-Peskey, the church sees at least 60 families a month in need of the additional food. However, she said that many of those in need of food are not homeless individuals, and many of them are not even unemployed. “We’re seeing a lot of working poor,” she said.

The food pantry at Immaculate Conception operates on Wednesdays from 1-4 p.m. Anyone in need is invited to come to the church with a photo I.D. and proof of income to collect the food.

As the economy continues to dwindle and the need for assistance grows in Lapeer County, the local churches will continue to seek out donations to provide free food through cooperation and dedication.

The soup kitchen schedule in Lapeer runs as follows:

 Monday, Trinity United Methodist Church, 1310 N. Main Street, from 4-5 p.m.

 Tuesday, Grace Episcopal Church, 735 W. Nepessing Street, 4-5 p.m.

 Wednesday, Lapeer Church of Christ, 1680 N. Lapeer Road, 5-6 p.m.

 Thursday, First Presbyterian Church, 433 N. Calhoun Street, 4-5 p.m.

 Friday, St. Paul Lutheran Church, 90 Millville Road, 4:15-5:30 p.m.

To reach Immaculate Conception Catholic Church or for information about the weekly food pantry program, call 810-664-8594. For more information about the food pantry program or to seek assistance from the LICA group, call Love INC of Greater Lapeer at 810-245-2414.

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