DETROIT (March 16, 2020) – More than 300,000 children qualify for free and reduced lunches, and before current realities of the pandemic, approximately 1 in 5 families already face food insecurity in Michigan. In response to state-mandated school closures, Gleaners Community Food Bank (Gleaners), based in Detroit and serving five counties in Southeast Michigan, is expanding its food distribution efforts to include additional distribution sites, increasing volumes of food and establishing longer warehouse operations.
“More than 300,000 children in southeast Michigan rely on meals at school, and though many schools are planning daily meal distributions, we know not every family can pick up food every day,” said Gerry Brisson, president and CEO of Gleaners. “With the help of numerous community partners, we are increasing the number of distribution sites and the amount of food provided so children and their families would only need to attend a food distribution every other week.”
Gleaners is coordinating increased mobile food distributions at schools and other sites near schools. These distribution sites will provide enough food to supplement what children would normally receive while in school and while families are asked to stay home as much as possible. At these sites, parents will remain in their vehicles to adhere to “social distancing” recommendations. Operations will begin at these distribution sites on a rolling basis, ramping up to eight sites a day. A list of distribution sites will appear on www.gcfb.org and will be updated as sites are confirmed and added.
With Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s announcement for business closures and event cancellations, Gleaners is also preparing for the potential next wave in community need. Gleaners is coordinating with select agencies of its partner network to provide food boxes for community members who are in need of support due to temporary workplace displacement caused by precautionary coronavirus closures. Details on the availability of these food boxes and pick-up sites, strategically selected based on geographic location, will be announced as soon as possible.
To support these increased efforts, Gleaners has split its Detroit warehouse operations shifts and extended its hours to 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., five days per week, with additional hours on Saturdays, to get food to its partners. Gleaners warehouses are not community distribution hubs. Families and individuals in need of food should visit www.gcfb.org or www.pantrynet.org to find a location nearest to them. With these expanded operations, Gleaners has taken all necessary precautions to distribute food safely and efficiently for the health and safety of its team members, those they serve and volunteers.
Gleaners is working alongside and staying in consistent communication with experts and community organizations, ensuring they are ready to react as new details of the situation continue to evolve. The organization has been coordinating with The Office of Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s office, as well as Forgotten Harvest, the Capuchin Soup Kitchen, United Way for Southeastern Michigan, the Michigan Department of Education, the Food Bank Council of Michigan, and Gleaners’ more than 500 partner agencies to align response with recommendations and mandates to the region. Gleaners staff also has been staying abreast of the communications from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all five county health departments, Feeding America, the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services and the Detroit Area Agency on Aging.
Expanded operations and food distribution is expected to cost Gleaners as much as $90,000 per day. Community members are encouraged to visit www.gcfb.org to donate what they can in this increased time of need. Gleaners also will continue to accept food donations at any of their five locations, though community members and organizations are encouraged to start Virtual Food Drives rather than physical food drives to adhere to social distancing recommendations.
Gleaners will continue to provide updates on its website www.gcfb.org as new information on support becomes available.
About Gleaners Community Food Bank
Headquartered in Detroit, Gleaners operates five distribution centers in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Livingston and Monroe counties and provides food to 528 partner soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters and other agencies throughout southeastern Michigan. Named Feeding America’s 2019 Food Bank of the Year, Gleaners distributed more than 43 million pounds of food to neighbors in need in 2018. On average, Gleaners distributes the equivalent of 96,348 meals each day and provides nourishing food to 430,000 people, including 171,000 children a year. Every dollar donated provides three meals, and 93 cents of every donated dollar goes to food and food programs. For more information, visit www.gcfb.org.
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