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Fighting for food security: CLK Council of Churches Food Pantry accepts Pat’s donation

Nick Wilson/Daily Mining Gazette CLK Council of Churches Food Pantry representative Carol Bessolo (middle) accepts a donation from Pat’s representatives Mark Mathews (right) and Michele Kalcich (left) at Pat’s Foods IGA in Calumet.

CALUMET — According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, 13.8 million households, or about 10.5% of all households, struggled with food insecurity in 2020. Food insecurity is defined as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy lifestyle.

Many Upper Peninsula families know this struggle all too well. According to data from the non-profit group Feeding America, 15% of Houghton County residents and 12.3% of Keweenaw County residents experience food insecurity.

But in the U.P., there are organizations dedicated to combating food insecurity by providing food to those in need. One such group is the CLK Council of Churches – Food Pantry, a Calumet-based charity composed of local community churches. CLK relies on charitable donations and the work of devoted volunteers to provide food to community members in need.

“We’re open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays and I have three volunteers that are with me all the time,” said CLK representative Carol Bessolo. “We prepare a bag and it has approximately three meals in it. People Just come in and get it, sometimes there are extra little goodies that I could get.”

On Monday morning, Bessolo was at Pat’s Foods IGA in Calumet accepting a donation from the grocery store to help fund the CLK Food Pantry’s efforts.

“IGA has been very helpful, they work with me when I need to order food and they’ve been good to us,” she said.

Each year, funds raised in the annual Campioni Charity Golf Outing are donated to local food charities in U.P. communities. Last week, both Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly and St. Vincent de Paul’s Resurrection Conference Food Pantry accepted donations from Pat’s in Hancock, to support their own holiday food aid initiatives.

The donation to CLK will help the organization stock up on food items in advance of the holidays, a busy time for the food pantry.

“People do come more because of that (the holidays) and we try to provide something,” Bessolo said. “One year It might be a turkey and next year it’s a certificate so they can come and get whatever type of food from the store.”

Bessolo explained that the CLK Food Pantry serves any local family in need, providing food to one person per household per month.

“You just come in and show an ID. There’s no proof of income or anything. Just because they have a job doesn’t mean they can’t come to the food pantry,” she said. “That’s what we’re here for. If you need the food, you’ve got it.”

The CLK Food Pantry accepts donations of food, monetary donations, and volunteers who want to help with the program. Monetary donations can be mailed to:

CLK Council of Churches

PO Box 415

Calumet MI 49913.

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