Smith Memorial Fund takes over Farmington Hills food pantry

A Farmington Hills food pantry that closed in June amid controversy has re-opened under new management.

The former St. Alexander Food Pantry doesn’t have a new name yet, but on November 1, the Farmington Hills-based Graham E. Smith Memorial Fund took over operations. The pantry has the same phone number, is located in the same building, and Hills resident Carol Greening has returned as coordinator.

St. Alexander Food Pantry
St. Alexander food pantry volunteers packed holiday food boxes last year for needy families.

The Fund, which also supports the activities of Farmington S.A.F.E. (Suicide Awareness for Everyone), was created by Farmington Hills mayor Ken Massey and his wife, Katherine, after their son succumbed to suicide. Ken Massey said the pantry fits with the Fund’s mission to support the community’s mental health and wellness needs.

“Nothing could be more stressful than not knowing where your next meal comes from,” he said.

Massey first considered getting the Fund involved after he was invited to an interfaith meeting where the fate of the pantry was discussed.

“It became very clear we needed to continue it,” he said. “A lot of the discussion was about finding a different group to run it … Being a person who looks for solutions, I said, ‘Let me talk to the (Fund) board.’.”

Permanent location needed

After getting board approval, Massey said, talks began with Fr. Krzysztof (Kris) Nowak at St. Gerald Catholic Church. That congregation took over the pantry after merging with the Servant Church of St. Alexander. Going through the process with the Archdiocese of Detroit, getting to the right people, moved opening under the new name from mid-July to November, he added.

“The pantry will stay in the same location for right now,” Massey said.

Discussions continue regarding a permanent location, but the St. Alexander site at 27835 Shiawassee in Farmington Hills needs some tender, loving care in the meantime. Volunteers will participate in a clean-up on November 12 (and November 13, if necessary), and issues with the boiler and heating are being addressed as well, Massey said.

There is also some thought toward expanding the food pantry site to include other organizations. The Michigan School of Professional Psychology in Farmington Hills would like to find a location for a community counseling center, and Oakland County Human Services has been looking for a local office, Massey said.

“Personally, I would like to find a way that we can coordinate a number of services in that spot,” he added.

Anyone who needs help, or who wants to volunteer or donate food items should call Greening, 248-474-5748. Monetary donations may be made to the Graham E. Smith Memorial Fund. Learn more at ges-memorial-fund.com.

Clarification: The sentence, “Going through the process with the Archdiocese of Detroit, getting to the right people, moved opening under the new name from mid-July to November, he added.”, was edited to clarify that the pantry was open at the time the new ownership was finalized.

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