Drive-through pantry created to help restaurant and service workers in Northern Michigan

HARBOR SPRINGS, MI – Restaurant and service industry workers have been hit particularly hard across Michigan amid the spread of the coronavirus and the state’s subsequent stay-at-home order that effectively halted all non-essential travel. Nowhere is this more apparent than in northern Michigan, whose holiday hotspots sat idle until spring, leaving thousands out of work.

To help ease the plate-filling side of this financial strain, Manna Food Project worked with Harbor Springs residents to create a weekly mobile food pantry with drive-thru service. Starting this Wednesday – and every Wednesday until May 6 – the pantry will be set up in the main parking lot of the Boyne Highlands complex, 600 Highland Drive. It will take place from noon to 3 p.m.

Manna staff and a group of volunteers will be on hand to distribute the pre-assembled food boxes. Everyone will have basic foods, as well as frozen and fresh foods. No registration will be necessary. All food will be given away for free.

“While this mobile pantry is dedicated to supporting Harbor Springs area service workers, no one will be turned away,” said Kim Baker, Executive Director of Manna.

Anyone wishing to pick up a box of food will only be asked for basic household information when they park in their vehicle.

“This is an extraordinary generosity that will help a very deserving segment of residents in this community,” said Mike Chumbler, President and CEO of Boyne Highlands. “We are delighted to be the host site for each week’s drive-thru event and anticipate a response that will quickly confirm the scale of the needs among hospitality and service workers across the region.”

Baker, of Manna, credits the effort to a small group of anonymous donors in the community.

Harbor Springs is not only a waterfront vacation destination, hugging the curve of Lake Michigan’s Little Traverse Bay, but it’s also home to Boyne Highlands and its neighboring ski resort, Nub’s Nob. It’s also a short drive to Petoskey, another town with a large influx of tourists from spring through fall.

“I’ve often said that we live in one of the most caring communities, and I tip my hat to this small group of anonymous donors for making this effort possible,” Baker said.

“The restaurants and resorts in our area bring so much joy to so many of us, and our hearts go out to those affected by the early seasonal layoffs and restaurant closures,” said one of the donors. in a press release about the project. “We love you. We miss you. And we can’t wait to see you all again.”

Manna Food Project works to help feed residents of Emmet, Charlevoix, and Antrim counties in northern Michigan. It is a partner organization of Feeding America Food Bank Network.

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