The energy and excitement was palpable at the kickoff of the Children’s Hospital Cereal Drive in Detroit. Nurses and doctors were dressed up in costumes—Tony’s Tigers, The Breakfastables and Queen Bees—representing the three competing teams. At the end of the weeklong drive, the team that collected the most boxes of cereal would be the 2019 winner. Kathy Dodds, a nurse at Children’s and captain of the Queen Bees said, “One year we hit a million. We keep raising the bar. We’re a competitive bunch.”
“You can eat it anywhere. You don’t need a stove or refrigerator. You can eat it with or without milk. It can be breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack. And kids love it.”Pam Taurence, RN at Children’s
This yearly event began in 2010 when Pam Taurence, a nurse at Children’s Hospital, called Gleaners Events Manager, Suzette Hohendorf to brainstorm on an event that could help feed the many food insecure patients seen at Children’s Hospital. The need is especially great in the summer when kids are no longer receiving meals at school. The idea of cereal struck a chord. “You can eat it anywhere. You don’t need a stove or refrigerator. You can eat it with or without milk. It can be breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack. And kids love it” says Pam.
During the day’s kick off, the three teams competed in an Iron Chef-style event and created the most “kidelicious” cereal and ice cream concoctions. Afterward, another competition saw them stacking box upon box of cereal—the winning team with a teetering tower of Frosted Flakes, Fruit Loops and Cheerios among other kid favorites. The stacks of donated boxes of cereal in the hospital lobby had already begun and this was just day one.
The weeklong event continued with cereal collections at various locations throughout metro Detroit, including Campus Martius in the heart of downtown Detroit. A highlight is always “Fill the Bus” with Jay Tower in the Morning of 100.3 WNIC and this year did not disappoint. Airing live from the Kroger, Royal Oak parking lot, shoppers walked up with carts full of cereal. One little guy rode up on his bike (mom alongside) and handed $20 to a volunteer. “People will come up and give me a $100 bill, a $50. They want no recognition. It’s been happening all morning” said Jay Tower. “We partnered with Children’s Hospital seven years ago to make what they were already doing even bigger.”
“The kids are why we do this. I get emotional. The fact that in 2019 there are kids that don’t have enough to eat is crazy.”Jay Towers
Henry Ford nurses pulled up with trunks full of cereal. A fire truck from Farmington Hills came through. The M.S.U. Federal Credit Union was on hand after raising and donating $5000 for the cause. A bicycle club showed up with a truckload of cereal. To the surprise of everyone, Gleaner’s President and CEO, Gerry Brisson, unveiled the great news that for the 10th anniversary, Kellog’s was donating one million servings of cereal. To give this some perspective, in its first year, the cereal drive brought in 160,757 servings. Every year it has continued to grow and in 2018 almost 2 million servings were collected.
The goal for this 10th anniversary was an ambitious 3 million servings and we are thrilled to announce that the final count of 3,080,617 surpassed all expectations. The Children’s Hospital Cereal Drive has collected a mind-boggling 10 million servings in 10 years. There is no break from hunger during summer vacation and now, more kids’ bellies will be full and happy as a result of this important drive. As Jay Towers said, “The kids are why we do this. I get emotional. The fact that in 2019 there are kids that don’t have enough to eat is crazy.”