In 1983, when the Michigan economy was in a slump, a group of people from various Midland County churches got together to see if there were ways they could help to meet the needs of their communities. Judy and Jerry Falor of Coleman met with a group called “Ecumenical Community Outreach” as they explored the concept of an “Emergency Food Pantry Network.”
With a grant from Memorial Presbyterian and St. John’s Episcopal Churches, the project was underway by March of 1983 and a coordinator was hired. The Falors got permission from the Coleman School District to set up a pantry for Coleman in Room 8 of the Middle School. By April of 1983 the pantry was stocked and had volunteers, and shelves were constructed to hold the food. The Coleman Ministerial Association helped the pantry by having food collections from their member churches. They also funded gift certificates, or vouchers, for the pantry customers. The vouchers, usually $20 per family, that accompany the canned and packaged food, were to be used in the local grocery store, Mercers, for fresh foods the pantry was unable to stock, not having refrigeration or freezer accommodations.
By September, 1984, the school needed the space then used by the pantry, so the pantry was temporarily moved to a store on Railway Street. In November of that year, it was moved again to a spare bedroom in St. Phillip Neri’s rectory. That year Judy gave out mini-Christmas stockings with a candy cane bearing the name of an item needed in the pantry and had a good response.
In November, 1985 Mercer’s store closed and the vouchers were honored at the Coleman Supermarket. The Wesleyan Church had an ecumenical Thanksgiving service which benefited the pantry. That same year St. Phillip’s got food for the pantry by having a Christmas tree with candles labeled with food items needed by the pantry.
In 1986, through a request by Judy Falor and approved by the Midland County EFPN Board of Directors, the Coleman Pantry would help people who were church members in Coleman, but did not reside in Midland County. Later the board expanded the request to include families who had children in Coleman schools but did not reside in Midland County.
In September, 1987, the pantries were receiving powdered milk from the commodity program, so it started giving out recipes with ways to use the powdered milk.
The pantry moved again in the fall of 1989 to a room at Earl Keim Realty, where they stayed until September 1992, when they moved upstairs in the City Hall Building. Transporting bags and boxes of groceries up and down the steep stairs, mostly by retired folks, was not easy.
In January 1996, the pantry was moved to a room in the new Fellowship Hall of Faith United Methodist Church. The best is its’ location; not only ground floor but just inside the building. The room has one wall lined with shelves and in the late 1990’s a second-hand upright freezer was purchased.
It was decided in 2014 to consolidate the two pantries into one and locate it at the Greater Midland Coleman Family Center, 4839 N. Coleman Schools Dr. Volunteers will no longer have to transport the food to the former pick-up location. The pantry is now larger and recipients can take advantage of other activities at the Family Center including the free clothing center located inside the building. The clothing center is open during normal business hours