Health Hub: Local pantry helps close nutritional gaps

Health Hub: Local pantry helps close nutritional gaps
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Even as an arctic blast pushed Flint’s temperature into negative double digits recently, patrons still lined up outside the Martus/Luna Food Pantry.

More than 90 families were served by the organization, which operates from the back of the Latinx Technology Community Center. Food boxes are passed out every Wednesday starting at 9 a.m.

One week in mid-January almost 200 visitors showed up.

“There are a lot of poor people out there who need it,” says director Art Luna.

Before the thought of random canned goods cleared from cupboards enters your mind, Martus/Luna focuses on nutrition. Above all else, fresh vegetables are promoted.

Even icy roads and the arctic cold does not deter the many dedicated volunteers who help distribute food at the Martus/ Luna Food Pantry, which serves hundreds of patrons weekly.

One of Martus/Luna’s partners, the Crim Fitness Foundation, provides recipes so patrons can have options about how they prepare the foods they receive – and maybe help coax a few kids (and adults) to eat their green vegetables.

“Some people love greens,” says Luna. “Some people just don’t know what to do with them.”

For its week-in and week-out dedication the organization won the Beacon of Light Award from the Food Bank Council of Michigan last year.

To many this would sound like quite the accomplishment, but for Martus/Luna it’s only the beginning. The pantry has outgrown out its current location at 2101 Lewis St., Luna says, so the current plan is to expand to the former site of a party store near Franklin and Lewis. The new site will be designed more like a grocery store to let visitors make their own selections. Nutrition will remain a focus.

The new headquarters is expected to open by early April.

But, of course, expansion takes work, support, and money. Work ethic is something the organization certainly has, along with plenty of help from organizations such as the Crim Fitness Foundation and UAW.

When it comes to the $90,000 needed to make the goal a reality, there is still a need for assistance. Quite a bit of money has already been allocated and donated, but Martus/Luna will have to get closer to its target in order to purchase and renovate the property. Anyone interested in offering donations can make them payable to Martus/Luna Memorial Association, 12254 Jennings Road, Linden, MI 48451.

There are also plans for a Gofundme campaign. Once the campaign is launched, there will be a link to it on Luna’s Facebook page.

All of the pantry’s work is done in the name and memory of two police officers, who died in an accident. Martus/Luna is named after the policemen, Ryan Martus and Roger Luna, Art Luna’s cousin.

Martus/Luna Food Pantry serves so many patrons that it plans to expand this spring.

Anyone who needs food assistance, or knows someone who does, is asked to spread the word that food boxes are distributed at Martus/Luna every Wednesday morning at 2101 Lewis St.

In spite of all the meals regularly distributed and the plans for expansion that suggest a successful program, there is still one thing that Luna says gets in the way of meeting more of the community’s need – pride.

“People who have worked hard their whole lives have trouble asking for a handout,” Luna says. “We are not here to judge anyone.”

Editor’s Note: Food boxes are distributed at Martus/Luna every Wednesday morning at 10:00 a.m. The pantry is located at 2101 Lewis Street in Flint. 

If you would like to donate to Martus/Luna by check or money order, make your donation payable to Martus/Luna Memorial Association and mail to 12254 Jennings Road, Linden MI 48451. To make an online donation, visit the organization’s facebook page.

 

 

 

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