Project Starburst is a nonprofit food bank based in Big Rapids, MI, and serves both Mecosta and Osceola counties. From a small but diligent start, Project Starburst has increased its presence in the community by offering what is most needed to residents who are living in poverty. The initial services were offered from the homes of social workers. In 1971, the organization became a 501(c)3 nonprofit agency located in the United Church of Big Rapids, which has provided space without any cost. In the 50-year history of the organization, they have provided a multitude of programs and services, but the core service has always been, and will continue to be, food and basic services.
Project Starburst is community-based and locally funded. It relies heavily on volunteers who assist with food drives, shopping, gathering food donations, unloading food trucks from the area food bank, and packaging food for those in need. They provide monthly groceries to residents of Mecosta and Osceola counties, and the groceries are filled based on family size and dietary needs. Project Starburst is primarily a food-and-hygiene-needs pantry, but they offer other services as well, such as acquisitions of birth certificates, providing Dial-A-Ride tickets, and providing referrals to local agencies (like Mid-Michigan Community Action Center, Michigan Works, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services). On average, Project Starburst assists approximately 240 families per month and provides nearly 13,000 meals to those in need. In the past year, Project Starburst assisted a total of 3,191 families by providing 434,360 meals.