Gleaners summer program adapts to feed despite COVID-19

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METRO DETROIT — Social distancing requirements necessitating the avoidance of large groups aren’t ideal for summer food outreaches built around the Meet Up and Eat Up concept.

The needs still exist, and in some cases they may be even greater. Organizers say the Gleaners Community Food Bank has adapted to continue providing supplemental nutrition for children away from school — and as a result, away from available breakfast and lunch food program assistance programs — during the summer of the coronavirus.

“That’s the purpose of the summer feeding program, to fill the gap,” said Deb Smith, Summer Food Program manager for Gleaners. “We’re reaching as many children as we can this year. There’s definitely a need, especially in the summer. What happens in the summer? How do these children get fed? The need is there, and we’ll make the gap a little smaller for all of us.”

In response to COVID-19, this year’s program has been adapted to including multiple distribution models designed to better meet the needs of children and special needs adults aged 19-26 in southeast Michigan.