Everything from food to rental assistance and applications to government aid are offered by North Kent Community Services. The non-profit agency has limited resources and will not make guarantees, but they do serve as an organization that low income families or senior citizens can turn to for help.
The demand for hunger prevention and food assistance is very high in Kent County. So the organization partners with other groups to provide resources around this issue. Some of the main services that may be available are below.
There are several pantries available, including some client choice locations. This allows people to acquire only what they need, which both helps them and reduces any chances of waste. There may be healthy boxes of food, groceries, milk, breads and more passed out in an emergency.
They also partner with the regional Access of West Michigan Food Pantry Network to coordinate resources. The goal is to help those that are struggling and vulnerable, with a special focus on children as well as senior citizens. The centers may also have information on government benefits such as CSFP (as indicated below), WIC or SNAP food stamps.
The federally funded Commodity Supplemental Food Program has a goal of improving the nutrition and health of low-income pregnant women, single parents, elderly people at least 60 years of age, new mothers up to one year postpartum, infants, and children up to age six. The state of Michigan, using federal resources, will provide them with nutritious USDA-supplied foods to supplement their diets.
Growing fresh produce, including both fruits and vegetables, to feed families is an excellent step toward self-sufficiency for clients. To work towards this goal, the Community and Volunteer Gardens help in facilitating these efforts. In addition to a plot at a local raised garden, NKCS will also supply free seeds to vegetables and instruction on the subject of gardening. All produce grown by a client goes home with that person.
Other basic needs are offered too. Many residents from Kent County use services and the fact is they need more than what an emergency food bank can offer. So the non-profit will also offer free or low cost clothing and items. This may also be household goods, children's items, clothing, furniture, and supplemental food for each client a few times per month.
A focus of North Kent Community Services is on helping senior citizens. Many people in the community aged 65 years or older live in low-income households. They struggle with paying for high costs for health care, medical bills, rent and housing, so NKCS assists the elderly by offering programs and services that are specifically tailored to meet their needs.
For Kent County residents, including the elderly, who are having difficulty paying their bills or housing costs, NKCS may be able to help. Very limited amounts of assistance or low interest loans may be offered for back rent, utility bills, vision care, prescription costs and free vouchers for gasoline.
Note there will always be restrictions. For example, any gasoline assistance available is only for transportation to medical appointments, a job interview or in some other form of emergency situation. Financial assistance is dependent on availability of funds or donations, so any support is not guaranteed. However, the agencies caseworkers are well-trained and very knowledgeable, and will locate other sources of assistance and provide referrals, as needed.
Volunteers from the Income Tax Assistance Program help people prepare and file income tax returns at no cost to qualifying clients. NKCS works with the West Michigan United Way and also representatives from AARP each tax season to make this service possible.
NKCS’ seasonal programs, including free Christmas, Thanksgiving, and even school supplies, are available throughout the year to assist low-income individuals, children and families in northern Kent County. These programs are largely organized and operated by volunteers, with the support of community members, churches, businesses, schools, and other religious organizations.
There may be free Easter Baskets, presents for a child to open on Christmas morning, and food. This will also be such things as turkeys for Thanksgiving or toys and gifts for children from struggling households. Kids may receive a toy, winter coats, or other needs, and there may even be items passed out during back to school time.
The location of North Kent Community Services is at 10075 Northland Dr. NE, Rockford, Michigan 49341. Dial 616-866-3478.
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