Montcalm Community College joined United Way for a community wide Day of Caring on Saturday, April 21st called United to End Hunger in Montcalm and Ionia Counties to benefit 15 local food pantries. The event brought together approximately 300 volunteers ranging in age from 4 years old to over 90 years old to pack nearly 60,000 nutritionally fortified meals.
When is the last time you had to sit back and actually think about where your next meal is going to come from? All too often that is a reality for many families in both Montcalm and Ionia Counties. In Ionia County 45% and in Montcalm County 46% of our households struggle to meet their basic needs.
Dave Seppela, President of Isabella Bank said, “If you don’t know this statistic, it’s sad and amazing at the same time – Montcalm County has just under 50% of its population living paycheck to paycheck aka working poor. This is even after a “return” to normal economic times in our community. This event is the result of this condition and our need to support people with food needs.”
These families are ALICE families. ALICE is an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. ALICE represents the men, women of all ages and races who get up every day and go to work, but who face hard financial choices. ALICE is not an individual, but a conceptual blending of the all those in our community who bring home paycheck that doesn’t stretch to cover household needs. ALICE is glad to have a job, proud of their work, and happy to contribute to the community. ALICE has no cushion, ALICE has no fall back, their assets are limited and their income is constrained. ALICE is one CRISIS away from poverty. A rent hike, a family illness, the need for the new car tires.
The hunger issues in our counties tend to be invisible because we do not see families standing on a street corner begging for food. Instead they are neighbors, our families, and our co-workers that just simply do not have enough money to go around.
United Way Montcalm - Ionia Counties works for together with our donors, volunteers and partners, building a caring community where each person has the opportunity to achieve the aspirations we all share: a good education for our kids, a roof over our heads, food on the table and the security that comes with financial stability. All money raised at United Way Montcalm – Ionia Counties stays local in our counties to fund programming that helps to achieve these goals. Great things happen when we LIVE UNTIED!