950 residents receive food weekly at the Martus/Luna Food Pantry

By Tom Travis

Over 40 cars lined up on the streets around the Martus/Luna Food Pantry on Wednesday. Art Luna, President of the Martus/Luna Memorial Association which organizes the weekly food give away, said on average 950 people receive food each week. The first week in April they had 305 cars come through the line, the second week it was 335 cars and last week it was 280 cars.

Art Luna, President of the Martus/Luna Memorial Association, places recipe idea cards into each box to be given away. (Photo by Tom Travis)

Luna pointed to two pictures on the wall of the small food pantry. The pictures were of Ryan Martus and Roger Luna both Flint City Police Officers that were tragically killed in a deer hunting accident in November 2002. According to The Martus/Luna Food Pantry Facebook page the Martus/Luna Memorial Association was begun within weeks of the men’s deaths in honor of their lives.

It was during a special Holiday Food Give Away, organized in December of 2012, that the Association saw the great need in the community for food. The Martus/Luna Food Pantry and weekly food give away were developed after that event. Every Wednesday since that first food give away the food pantry has given out food boxes to the community.

Portraits of Ryan Martus (right) and Roger Luna (left) in the one room food pantry that helps thousands of local residents. (Photo by Tom Travis)

In 2018 The Martus/Luna Food Pantry received the Michigan Harvest Gathering Beacon of Light Award from The Food Bank Council of Michigan. According to Martus/Luna Food Pantry Facebook page they have served 22,532 residents in 2018, 18,285 residents in 2017 and 19,615 residents in 2016.

Luna stated that they are thankful for the generous support of General Motors and their employees including UAW local 598 and 659. He said, “they help us a lot!” He also pointed out that they received a grant from The Community Foundation as well. Those wishing to donate to the Martus/Luna Food pantry can mail donations to 12254 Jennings Road, Linden MI 48451.

Volunteer Sylvia Luna equipped with a clip board and pen takes down each person’s zip code and family numbers including number of adults and children. It is “a no questions asked” food give away. The zip code is the only information needed to receive a food box. (Photo by Tom Travis)

Every Wednesday the food pantry opens at 10 a.m. and gives out food boxes until the food is gone. The Food Bank of Eastern Michigan delivers a semi-truck of food. Residents are allowed to walk up to receive food as well. There is a sign in table on the south side of the building for those coming to receive food on foot. Deliveries are possible as well but they are limited in the number of deliveries made each week. If residents need a box delivered they can call the Martus/Luna Food Pantry

A local resident leaves the Martus/Luna Food Pantry give away with a grocery cart full of food. (Photo by Tom Travis)

The present location of the Martus/Luna Food Pantry is a small one room area in the rear of the Latinx Technology and Community Center of Greater Flint at 2101 Lewis Street Building B, Flint, 48506. The present building is a former Citizens Bank.

Luna said that Martus/Luna Memorial Association has their eye on another building across the street and around the corner. The former office of Dr. Linval Fleetwood located at 1415 Broadway. The Broadway Boulevard property would more than quadruple their present space which is about 400-500 sq. feet.

The former office of Dr. Linval Fleetwood who retired in December. The Martus/Luna Food Pantry would like to obtain this building to more than quadruple the space of their present 400-500 sq/ft one room food pantry in the rear of the Latinx facility. (Photo by Tom Travis)

“We have great volunteers,”  Luna said, surveying his group of 20-plus volunteers, all in masks and gloves and smiling eyes.  “If somebody comes through with seven or eight kids in the house, we try to give a little bit extra so the family has enough.”

Everybody gets two rolls of toilet paper and two gallons of water, he added.

“We want people to know anyone out there who really needs help can come here and get some.”

EVM Assistant Editor Tom Travis can be reached at tomntravis@gmail.com.

Author: Tom Travis

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