Volunteers Sue Kaza, left, and Carrie Konen shop for clients inside the pantry.

Volunteers Sue Kaza, left, and Carrie Konen shop for clients inside the pantry.

Photo by Nick Mordowanec


Church food pantry to community: ‘We’re here to serve’

By: Nick Mordowanec | C&G Newspapers | Published March 24, 2021

 Volunteers on St. Patrick’s Day pose in the revamped pantry space.

Volunteers on St. Patrick’s Day pose in the revamped pantry space.

Photo by Nick Mordowanec

 Charlene Crowe talks to a pantry client outside, due to COVID-19 regulations preventing indoor visitors.

Charlene Crowe talks to a pantry client outside, due to COVID-19 regulations preventing indoor visitors.

Photo by Nick Mordowanec

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CLINTON TOWNSHIP — St. Paul of Tarsus wants the public to know its food pantry is open and well stocked.

The pantry at the church, located at 41300 Romeo Plank Road, originally opened in 2013. It has since expanded with recent construction that was planned pre-pandemic, adding freezer and refrigerator space as well as a multitude of rooms for office work and catechism classes.

Doors were closed, however, between last March and October due to COVID-19. St. Paul pantry coordinator Joyce Yaklin took over her current role when the pantry reopened in October.

Yaklin has seven years’ experience with the pantry, formerly employed to track clients and input data via a countywide network monitoring food help and general assistance. She was approached to look after the pantry.

“I felt like it was a calling for me because it’s totally out of my comfort zone,” Yaklin said.

She said that once the pantry reopened, she and others expected former pantry goers to return due to the pandemic. That really didn’t happen.

Instead, it has been new groups of people. Yaklin mentioned how a nice car drove to the pantry’s front doors one day, explaining how both parents had lost their jobs and there were three children at home.

“It’s just a different time, different clients,” she said. “A lot of people have never had to do this before. It’s COVID … a lot of jobs lost, sickness in the family, single moms having to quit work to stay home to school their children.”

Bob Klann, who runs the pantry’s finances and has been there six years, said Meijer’s “Simply Give” program has helped over the years — with individuals purchasing $10 cards at the store that are converted into donations that directly go to food pantries.

The pantry normally serves between 100 and 150 families monthly, he said, which equates to between $70,000 and $80,000 worth of food annually.

Klann said clientele has been “cranking back up since October.” Client numbers vary by day. On March 1, there were 11 vehicles. Two days later, 33 vehicles drove up.

All food transactions are conducted outside, where volunteers will take inventory of what clients need and then bring food out to the vehicles.

Individuals and families are on the honor system. They drive up and fill out a food request, providing a driver’s license and stating how many people are part of the household.

They choose from a variety of items, including frozen and canned foods and even toiletries if necessary. Due to expansion, items can be stored and packaged more easily in the pantry’s large refrigerator and freezer. Aisles of dry goods are stored in the same area.

The only items lacking are fresh produce, which have not been part of the pantry due to safety concerns.

Klann said there is an ideology to serving the community in “concentric circles,” first focusing on parishioners before opening up the process to Clinton Township residents and then county residents altogether.

He said parishioners have been “tremendous” supporters. One, for example, recently assembled numerous Easter baskets for children.

Anyone from the county is encouraged to use the pantry’s resources, which Klann — a former commercial banker — said are stable enough to handle upwards of 200 families per month moving forward.

“Right now, we probably have enough financial resources to manage us for the next year,” he said. “We’re here to serve families in need.”

The pantry is open between 10 a.m. and noon on Mondays; 10 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. on Wednesdays; and 10 a.m. and noon on Thursdays.

To utilize the pantry’s service, enter at the north end of the parish parking lot and follow the signs. Visitors are required to remain in their vehicles, where they will present their valid ID.

For more information, call (586) 228-1094.

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