Fenton Center of Hope offering Mid-Michigan families more than just healthy food, in new location

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FENTON (WJRT) (12/06/2017) - What started out as a dream to help families in need eight years ago is now a reality for a husband and wife team in Fenton.

"We're not looking to just provide a box of food or take care of today's needs, we're trying to set them up for success for many years down the road," said Bob Strygulec, the director of the Fenton Center of Hope.

The Fenton "Center of Hope" food pantry has a new larger location that is helping the center accomplish its goal of helping others. It's called a free choice pantry, allowing clients to browse their selection of fresh produce, meats and canned goods with donated shopping carts.

"We can pick our own food, that's why I come here," said Crystal Slabough.

The 2,200-square-foot space is the brainchild of Jennifer and Bob Strygulec, who wanted to help families in need.

On Wednesday, they picked up 1,500 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables from the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan. At 18 cents a pound, they are able to stretch their donation dollars.

In addition to offering healthy food, the Center of Hope offers nutrition planning and life skills classes to clients.

Mother of three Crystal Slabough said times are tight around the holiday season.

"When you have Thanksgiving and Christmas back-to-back it's kind of hard," she said.

The stay-at-home mom is also taking care of a teenager who recently came to stay with her. While she and the children's father own a small business, she started coming back to the pantry for groceries in November.

"Making bigger meals is harder. Some days we'll have rice with chicken. It gets tough," she said.

Slabough added she appreciates the encouraging environment Jennifer and Bob offer at the Center of Hope, a faith-based nonprofit that serves people in Fenton, Linden and Grand Blanc.

"I don't feel embarrassed about getting help. I feel welcome here, like they're family," she said.

The Center of Hope will find out if their grant application for a new furnace by Monday. Right now, they're using a single space heater to try and keep this space warm.

They're also continuing to raise money for cooler units to provide their clients with dairy products.

For more information on the Fenton Center of Hope just click on the link to the right of this story.

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