For the past two years, Patrick Henderson has organized an internal food pantry for needy families at .
Henderson said he served about 50-60 families a year, but wished for a more expanded effort.
This year, Henderson's wish came true. Volunteers at Grace have teamed with Mayor Penny Luebs' office to host two food drives for families in Clawson.
"I've always wanted to do it," Henderson said Monday during the first food drive. "I am absolutely ecstatic."
In Michigan, 23 percent of children were living in poverty by 2009 compared with 14 percent in 2000 and with an unemployment rate, at 10.9 percent, worse than the nation’s, the New York Times reported.
The food drive comes at a time when the demand for food is expected to increase for many Michigan families. Earlier this month, the state cut cash welfare benefits for 41,000 Michigan families that had been receiving the assistance for 48 months or longer.
The cut was necessary because "the state can longer afford" to provide assistance for that long, Sara Wurfel, a spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Snyder, told The Detroit News.
"With things as bad as they are, we are going to see the need go up," said Liz Carnegie, an intern for Mayor Luebs who helped organize the food drive. "Money they don't have to spend on food can pay a utility bill. People are really hurting."
On Monday, volunteers packaged boxes for eight families at the food pantry at Grace Apostolic Church. Organizers have collected food from the church and the community and donated 160 loaves of bread. Henderson said he also chipped in some of his own money to help the food drive.
Each family gets a box with assorted nonperishable items. The amount of food is based on the size of the family.
Volunteers said a few families were waiting outside the church before the food drive even started Monday.
"We want them to feel comfortable, not like beggars," volunteer Lori Stubbings said.
in Clawson also has a food pantry through the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. The pantry gives out at least 30 boxes of food a week to needy families, said Tom Boucher, president of the local conference for St. Vincent de Paul.
The food pantry at Grace is accepting donations at , Grace Apostolic, and Body Works, 808 W. 14 Mile. Suggested donation items are canned fruits and vegetables, peanut butter, cereal, boxed meals, pasta and rice.
Next food giveaway
The next food drive is set for 6-9 p.m. Oct. 24 at Grace Apostolic Church. If you would like to pick up a box of food and can't make the food drive, contact the church at firstname.lastname@example.org or 248-307-0850.