New Baby Pantry
Interview with Christina Yuhasz from Family Information Service Hubs (F.I.S.H.).
Christina, tell me about the role of Trusted Advisors, what is the purpose of F.I.S.H.?
Three part-time staff (Trusted Advisors) help connect families to programs and services. The individuals that were hired and trained had participated in the Great Start Parent Coalition for several years and represented the peers of families that we are trying to reach. All the Trusted Advisors had utilized support services in Newaygo County in the past and were familiar with some of the intake/application processes. The goal was to provide Trusted Advisors that are relatable and approachable, so the targeted families feel comfortable gathering and sharing information.
The purpose of this project is to improve connections for families in Newaygo County who are not currently engaged in self-sufficiency programs and related community supports, by connecting them to local resources through knowledgeable staff (Trusted Advisors) at mobile Family Information Service Hubs (F.I.S.H.). Trusted Advisors will "fish" for families at strategic locations and help them navigate the county's support system while also reducing transportation and internet connectivity barriers.
You just started a new Baby Pantry. Tell me more about how this came about.
Although the Trusted Advisors were able to connect families to many different programs and resources in county, they were getting questions specifically about needs for infants and young children. There were also staff from our partnering agencies that reached out to us to see if we could connect their families to needed baby resources (diapers, formula, food, etc.).
Trusted Advisors refer these families to other organizations that had such supports. Often, families reported to us that they needed further assistance. Starting a Baby Pantry was one way that we could help assist both the families in need and the local agencies providing supports to these families.
We were able to use funds from the Family Information Service Hub grant through the Fremont Area Community Foundation in order to fill the gap. We received additional funds through the Great Start Collaborative grant through MI Dept. of Education and from Nestle.
Who can use the Baby Pantry and when is it open?
Anyone in Newaygo County who is having financial hardship can utilize the Baby Pantry. The Baby Pantry is open by appointment. Families may set up an appointment with one of the Trusted Advisors. The Baby Pantry is located in Fremont. We will ask families about their specific needs and if they need extra support, we will work with connecting them to other organizations or agencies.
For more information about Family Information Service Hubs, Trusted Advisors, or the Baby Pantry:
NCRESA is the fiduciary and oversees the work of the FISH and Great Start grants.