Hunger is a persistent issue that can often be hard to see. But during the state of emergency surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic—the need for emergency food has never been more visible. National news captures massive lines of cars waiting at food distributions. Reports of food shortages at grocery stores and food banks continue to make headlines. Each of us has experience how quickly life has change and we continue to brace for uncertainty ahead.
At Gleaners, we are equipped to handle emergency situations—even anomalies such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Just as quickly as our team expanded our food distribution—our community stepped up to help.
“So many of you have shown up for our team and our hungry neighbors. By making donations, sending words of encouragement and sharing our mission to fight hunger—you are directly contributing to Gleaners’ work in the community.”
–Stacy Averill, Senior Director of Community Giving & Public Relations
As the effects of the pandemic progress and bring on new waves of need, our supporters continue to show up for our hungry neighbors. Below are just a few stories—and we want to thank each and every donor for standing this Gleaners.
Wave 1: Fueling Kids’ Learning at Home
As the order came for schools in March, Gleaners knew a great number of kids would be at risk of going hungry. Before the pandemic, one in six children in Michigan did not have consistent access to the recommended three meals a day. With schools closed, 300,000 students might not receive the free and reduced-price school meals they rely on. The rate of childhood hunger is dramatically increasing.
“Our support is helping to ensure students and their families have nourishing food to fuel learning during extended school closures and the summer months ahead.”
—Terry Rhadigan, Executive Director, Corporate Giving at General Motors.
Gleaners’ School Food Mobiles are designed to help fill the meal gaps for families with students who receive school meals. By launching 70 drive-up food distribution sites modeled after these mobiles, Gleaners quickly delivered nutritious groceries to households with children—helping them stay home and stay healthy.
Within the first two weeks of our emergency response efforts, Gleaners served an additional 13,500 households through these drive-up sites alone. In order to sustain our expanded efforts, Gleaners needed critical financial support.
“We are fortunate to have outstanding organizations such as Gleaners in our community, leading the effort to provide nourishing meals to people in need.”
–Richard DeVore, Regional President for Detroit and Southeastern Michigan at PNC
Wave 2: Reaching New Households in Need
Just as quickly as schools closed, businesses were called to shut the doors in order to keep our community safe. During the month of April, Michigan’s unemployment rate soared to 22.7%—nearly 8 points above the national average. People seeking food assistance for the first time attending Gleaners’ drive-up food distribution sites, and our numbers held steady at 270 households served per event.
“When the pandemic hit, we wanted to find a way to continue our long-standing relationship with Gleaners to ensure they had our support when they needed it most. Our employees were also looking for ways to help those most vulnerable to the economic effects of the pandemic while social distancing.”
– Jacqueline Howard, Senior Director, Corporate Citizenship at Ally Financial
As the unemployment rate continued to climb, and children faced additional months without access to school meals, Gleaners knew this summer would be one of great need.
Wave 3: Aiding Vulnerable Populations
In April, Gleaners and our partners began to distribute boxes of well-balanced shelf-stable food to at-risk individuals facing new barriers to accessing healthy meals. Through a partnership with the Food Bank Council of Michigan and statewide Area Agencies on Aging, quarantine boxes are being delivered to seniors across Michigan. By deepening relationships with more than 120 community organizations, emergency food boxes are being distributed to healthcare patients, veterans, young mothers, formerly homeless, and other vulnerable populations.
“Gleaners Community Food Bank has been an unwavering lifeline for members of our community through times of need and especially through this time of crisis. We are grateful for their leadership as they distribute more food than ever before.”
–David Fischer, Jr., president and CEO of The Suburban Collection
Suburban Collection, a long-time supporter of our Women’s Power Breakfast, increased its support to help feed young families in need through our School Food Mobile program and at-risk seniors through ongoing quarantine box distribution.