Last week, we highlighted the Maryland Food Bank’s Network Partner Area Councils (NPACs) for their innovative hunger relief efforts. This week, we are showcasing another outstanding program, Access of West Michigan, for their equally innovative work. Both organizations are transforming the hunger-relief sphere in their efforts to increase communication between, and the effectiveness of, hunger-relief agencies.
Access of West Michigan seeks to connect congregational, individual, and community resources to eliminate hunger and reduce the impact of poverty in Kent County, Michigan. Formed in response to cutbacks in federal funding for social service programs, Access works to coordinate the community’s services in order to prevent duplication and maximize resources.
Their services fall within three broad categories: hunger response, congregation connections, and poverty education. Hunger response includes efforts to provide healthy, balanced, and nutritionally-dense foods to the Kent County community. Congregation connections links congregations, hunger-relief agencies, and social justice organizations. In creating these community-wide networks, they maximize resources for community members in need. Their poverty education program educates the community about poverty, combats misconceptions about poverty, and motivates people to join the fight against poverty.
There are currently more than 300 Kent County congregations working with Access to meet the needs of the community. Access provides a platform on which those with resources and services can interact and collaborate to alleviate hunger and poverty. In linking those in need with this coalition of people who can help, Access provides an innovative, effective, and admirable approach to hunger relief.