Local Snapshot

Goal: To provide help in times of crisis.

The need: In Berrien and Cass counties, 16.9% of children are food insecure and 887 students were homeless during the 2017-2018 school year


Arlene, 77, lives a happy, active life surrounded by loved ones—but she is one of many struggling with food insecurity in Cass County.

     Seniors are especially vulnerable to food insecurity. In the service area of Feeding America West Michigan, a United Way-

funded program, about 46,800 seniors are food insecure. Like many other seniors, Social Security is Arlene’s sole source of income. Although Arlene receives support from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, she is grateful for the resources within her community that help further improve her access to food.

     For the last 30 years, an organization called Helping Hands has been providing support for community members in need and served about 1,100 people last year. Arlene, like many other seniors in the area, depends on its senior commodities program, which provides household essentials, toiletries and food staples. Helping Hands also has a fixed pantry that community members can use once a month as a supplement to bridge the gap when money is limited.

     Helping Hands also partners with

Feeding America West Michigan, to provide a monthly mobile food pantry for the community. “It takes care of me,” Arlene says.

     “We have a lot of seniors that come to this [mobile food pantry],” says Mary Tompi, Helping Hands Director. “I’m not going to let anyone go hungry.”

33,883 people impacted

346,918 meals provided

15,956 individuals served food

19,983 days/nights of shelter provided

1,914 individuals provided shelter or safe environment

Those impacted by United Way…

355 individuals no longer need assistance due to an improved situation

3,764 individuals received emergency financial assistance

375 bills were paid for housing valuing $57,706

1,096 bills were paid for utilities valuing $459,711

764 bills were paid for other needs valuing $887,640


2-1-1 is a free and confidential service that helps people find the local resources they need.  To get help, simply dial 2-1-1 to speak with a community resource advisor that can provide you with information and referrals for everyday needs in times of crisis. If you are outside of Berrien and Cass Counties you can call

For a list of resources in your area you can also visit www.mi211.org. You can also talk to 2-1-1 in an online chat at www.gryphon.org or text your zip code to 898-211.

Every hour of every day, someone needs help. Whether it’s needing help with providing food for your family to job training, 2-1-1 is here.

You’ll find information about:

  • supplemental food and nutrition programs

  • shelter and housing options and utilities assistance

  • emergency information and disaster relief

  • employment and education opportunities

  • services for veterans

  • health care, vaccination and health epidemic information

  • addiction prevention and rehabilitation programs

  • reentry help for ex-offenders

  • support groups for individuals with mental illnesses or special needs

  • a safe, confidential path out of physical and/or emotional domestic abuse

Whether in times of natural disaster or personal crisis, 2-1-1 is committed to being the first, most essential resource to anyone who needs help.

Call 2-1-1 and speak with a live, highly trained service professional in your area from any cell phone or landline. All calls are private and confidential.

Visit the 2-1-1 website: www.mi211.org 

Click here to download the brochure

Click here to download the FLYER