Cover photo: Personnel from the National Guard assist at the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan March 31
The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation approved an emergency grant of $200,000 for the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan to purchase and distribute food for the most underserved populations in Flint and Genesee County.
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the food bank has experienced rapidly growing need for emergency food resources for children, seniors and families in the greater Flint area. The grant from the Mott Foundation will allow the food bank to provide roughly 1.2 million meals to those in need in Flint and Genesee County.
“The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the well-being of Flint and Genesee County is still evolving, but it’s clear that more people will need help getting adequate food,” said Ridgway White, president and CEO of the Mott Foundation. “This grant will support the great work the food bank does to help ensure no one in our community has to go hungry.”
The grant will allow the food bank to purchase and deliver fresh and healthy food to nine distribution sites in the community. In addition, partner organizations and volunteers will deliver food to homebound seniors and other individuals who are disabled, lacking transportation or in self-isolation due to illness.
“Our team at the food bank quickly adapts and responds in times of crisis,” said Kara Ross, president and CEO of the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan. “We would not be able to modify our operations and expand our services so quickly without the support of partners like the Mott Foundation. During this extraordinary time, our community will continue to work together to help neighbors and provide vital services to those who are struggling with hunger.”
The funding is of particular importance because the pandemic continues to impact food donations, Ross said. Due to increased demand from their own customers, the food bank’s retail partners decreased their food donations by 100,000 pounds in March 2020 as compared with March 2019. As a result, the food bank had to spend over 30 percent more to purchase food in the same month of each year. Ross expects that percentage will increase as the country continues to struggle with the pandemic.
To help prevent spread of the coronavirus, the food bank has switched its mobile food pantry distributions to drive-through style. People pull up to distribution sites, where volunteers place pre-bagged food items into the trunk of each vehicle while adhering to proper social distancing protocols.
Residents in need of food can search by zip code on the food bank’s website to find the pantry closest to their home. Calendars for mass and mobile food distributions are also online.
In addition, community members can download the “Got Food?” app in the iOS or Google app stores to find food sources near them. The State of Michigan’s Michigan 2-1-1 web page; https://www.mi211.org/, also provides resources for people in need of food.
The Food Bank of Eastern Michigan distributes 28 million pounds of food, through a network of over 700 hunger relief programs in 22 countries.