Allegan Food Alliance looking to buy former bowling alley for community food hub

Allegan Food Alliance looking to buy former bowling alley for community food hub

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ALLEGAN, Mich. — The Allegan Food Alliance plans to form a meal program and food club, on top of other offerings, potentially on the site of Snowden Sunset Lanes, a now-closed bowling alley.

“Food with dignity, food as connection, food as medicine,” said Mary Colborn, director of the “brand new” nonprofit.

Recently, the alliance recruited a Food Policy Council for the sake of creating a daily meal program for local students. Through discussion and the availability of a nearby former bowling alley, Colborn thought bigger.

“We have to look at the root causes of hunger,” Colborn said.

Snowden Sunset Lanes

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Allegan Community Food Hub

If fully realized (and funded), the Allegan Community Food Hub would provide a total of six services. In addition to the pay-what-you-can meal program and food club, a farmers’ market and community garden would connect the hub to local produce.

“We are in a region that’s second to none in diversity of crop production,” Colborn said. “We should have the capacity to feed ourselves.”

A demonstration kitchen would also offer cooking classes, while a commercial kitchen could be utilized by local growers looking to process and sell their crop in small supply.

“We just need to be supported,” Colborn said. “And we need to support ourselves.”

Snowden Sunset Lanes

In the 1950s, the Allegan-based bowling alley first opened as Collins Lanes, until the Templin family bought the business in 1969. Despite a name and ownership change in 2007, it’s been in the family ever since, but likely won’t be for long.

Snowden Sunset Lanes

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“It’s a sorrow that I had to let it go,” said owner Matthew Snowden, who—along with his father—ran the business bearing his name for more than a decade. “Times change.”

In May, the long-lasting effects from the COVID-19 pandemic forced the bowling alley to close. Now, it’s liquidating—listing bowling balls and furniture for sale while stripping the lanes.

“We were the spotlight at night on Saturday nights,” Snowden said. “Something to do for the kids.”

Snowden Sunset Lanes

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A Third Place

If the Allegan Food Alliance can find the funding through a public grant or private donation to purchase the building, the space could operate as a “third place.”

“You have your school and you have your home, but we’d be the third place,” Colborn said. “The place where people feel like they belong.”

“Allegan is a very tight-knit community,” said Reneè Smith, a sophomore at Allegan High School. “I feel like a place where you can be individually yourself, but belong to something would be really good for Allegan.”

If interested, you can contact the Allegan Community Food Hub at [email protected].

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