Small food pantries fill the gaps that large food banks miss

Gleaners and Forgotten Harvest - buzzwords in the food bank community.

These big programs cater to the hungry by supplying food to those who can't afford it. But, as with every public service initiative, some fall through the cracks. And that's where smaller food pantries come to the rescue.

One of the biggest impediments to taking advantage of the banks is the distance they need to travel. It's too far. This dearth of available sources of food becomes a struggle especially in the summer, when kids who would regularly be in school and get fed during lunch, don't have the opportunity to.

"Red ants bite, they sting. But these don't," said Noah.

Noah enjoys looking for his favorite insects, even the ones that bite. And his father Sean wants to ensure he can enjoy his hobbies without the pangs of hunger eating away at an empty stomach.

"Doesn't the food pantry help us eat?" asks Sean Elliot of his son, patting his belly in the process.

"Yes," he responds.

"You ain't miss no meals never," Elliot said. "Gleaners, Salvation Army, they do help people and I love it. It's like can't everyone have one in their neighborhood. If I have to go all the way down there to get some food and then we don't have no gas, it's not going to happen."

Cue cracks being filled.

"I used to have one gal who came every time with her wagon," said Claire Miller. "She lived a few blocks away and we still have that."

Miller runs the Redford Aldersgate United Methodist Church. Understanding the importance of proximity, this food pantry is one of many small community-based programs that cater to the need of hunger, proximity in mind.

"Yes they do wonderful things," Miller said, referring to larger food banks. "But we're right at the line helping everybody."

One of the ways the United Methodist Church gets its food is through the "Meijer Simply Give Program."

"It's been wonderful because any food we need we are given gift cards for, and I benefit from that right now," said Miller.

Look for the "Give Card" next time you visit a Meijer. They go to small local pantries like the one that the United Methodist Church hosts. Even better, Meijer is matching donations on May 31 through June 14. If someone buys a $10 gift card, that becomes $30.