Shiawassee SOARs (Supporting Our Area Restaurants) Meal Distribution Program has been extended thanks to a generous $10,000 contribution from Consumers Energy.

   “We are pleased that this innovative and collaborative effort will assist those in need, and appreciate the generosity of those working together to make sure our restaurants stay in business and our neighbors do not go hungry,” said Rafael Turner, Consumers Energy community affairs manager for Genesee and Shiawassee counties.

   Shiawassee SOARs was launched on March 10 in eight hometowns throughout the county. The Shiawassee Family YMCA, United Way of Genesee County, serving Genesee and Shiawassee Counties, Shiawassee Economic Development Partnership, Shiawassee Regional Chamber of Commerce, and the Greater Durand Area Chamber of Commerce collaborated to start the program. With funding from United Way of Genesee County, Shiawassee SOARs distributes prepared meals to individuals/households in need across Shiawassee County hometowns – all while financially supporting locally-owned restaurants with a guaranteed stream of orders for several weeks.

   Shiawassee SOARs is paying restaurants $10 per meal. The restaurants must be locally owned, and a percentage of their food must be locally sourced which will further stimulate the local economy.

   “The program has been so beneficial for our communities and we are excited that we can now extend it through Monday, April 12,” explained Laura Archer, Shiawassee Family YMCA CEO. “Shiawassee SOARs is helping to keep restaurants open, keep people employed, and keep people fed – everyone benefits.”

   Meals are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., or until they run out, in eight hometowns throughout the county.

   “On Monday, March 29, we started a SOARs mobile distribution with the help of Reverend Paul Dietzel of Faith Family Fellowship in Corunna,” Emily Marrah, United Way of Genesee County Relationship Specialist shared. “They kindly offered the use of their bus and United Way board member Jeff Apsey volunteered to drive. We were able to deliver food directly to Pleasant Valley residents.”

Shiawassee SOARs distribution sites include:

• Woody’s Bancroft Tavern, 117 Warrant St., Bancroft

• Matador’s Pizza, 123 S. Saginaw, Byron

• Durand Chamber of Commerce, 109 N. Saginaw, Durand

• Laingsburg Dairy Den, 705 E. Grand River Rd., Laingsburg

• Shiawassee Family YMCA, 515 W. Main St., Owosso

• Shiawassee Hope, 521 E. Williams St., Owosso

• Joe-Lee’s Crosswind Café, 208 Airport Dr., Owosso

• The Z Hall, 2886 Owosso Ave., Owosso

• Amy’s Downtown Diner, 115 S. Main St., Perry

• Charlie’s Bar & Grill, 136 N. Main St., Perry

   Other restaurants preparing food include: South 401 in Corunna, Stomping Grounds Coffee, Tiger Shark Café, and Union Station Smokehouse all from Durand, as well as Greg & Lou’s Family Restaurant, Korner Pub, New Port Classic Coney Island and Roma’s Back Door – all from Owosso.

   “As we’ve seen throughout the pandemic, food insecurity is continuing to grow. With four out of every 10 adults seeking food support for the first time, this restaurant meal program simply provides another healthy option for individuals and families to receive much needed food support,” said Archer. “The Shiawassee Family YMCA will continue to seek collaborations with other organizations in order to provide the support our community needs.”

   In addition to Shiawassee SOARs, the Shiawassee YMCA hosts monthly food distributions provided by the Greater Lansing Area Foodbank with food support funding and sponsorships from Owosso Rotary Club, Owosso First Church of the Nazarene, Owosso Public Schools, Pleasant View, Memorial Healthcare Pediatric; Adolescent Medicine, J & Sales Service, Inc., Tom Renwick, Attorney at Law, Ludington Electric and many individual donors. Past partners include DayStarr and the Fraternal Order of Police.

   The next mobile food pantry is scheduled for Tuesday, April 6 at the Y and is sponsored and served by Owosso First Church of the Nazarene. If you are interested in helping to sponsor a food support program, persons may contact Laura Archer at the Shiawassee Family YMCA, or (989) 725-8136.

Shiawassee SOARS Program Extended was last modified: April 5th, 2021 by Karen Elford