‘Hunger Heroes’ Raise Food and Funds for Gleaners

During the 2021-2022 school year, an incredible 66 schools and districts competed for the “Hunger Heroes” title by raising the most food and funds for Gleaners Community Food Bank. After months of friendly competition, Gleaners is proud to congratulate two Hunger Heroes champions: 

  • Brighton School District donated a total of $19,013.54 for Gleaners, providing over 57,000 meals to neighbors in need! 
  • Bloomfield Hills School District collected 8,460 pounds of food for Gleaners; in combination with their monetary donations, that’s enough to provide 14,716 meals

“The food drive is at the beginning of the school year and the kids are always so incredibly excited. It’s their chance to really see a direct impact right away,” said Kimberly Andersen, AP Psychology teacher and NHS Advisor at Brighton High School.  

Andersen said the students competed against each other by class to raise the most food and funds for Gleaners. To encourage participation and engagement, the school’s National Honors Society committee offered tiered prizes to the students, which included free lunch, home baked cookies, and candy. This past year, Andersen said, students on the winning team were granted special permission to either come to school an hour late or leave an hour early.  

Andersen noted that Gleaners’ Virtual Food and Fund Drive platform made it easy for students to fundraise. 

“We had a big online presence this year, so ever since Gleaners has had the online donation platform, that’s really been the game-changer for us,” Andersen said. “All of our kids are going to be a part of some community somewhere, so it starts at home. Although they’re just teenagers, they are woven into the fabric of everything that is happening locally, in the United States, and the whole world.” 

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Lara Alami, Make a Difference Day Committee Chair at Bloomfield Hills Schools, said a total of nine schools in the district collected food over the course of a month. To maximize student participation, Alami said many schools planned their food drives in conjunction with special events, such as change wars, pajama days, and Red Ribbon Week.  

“At the end of the week, the students might bring in one dollar or a can or whatever they’re able to share to benefit Gleaners. It works really well and it’s accessible for families,” Alami said, adding that the initiative creates a ripple effect of excitement and enthusiasm. “When we all do something small it can really amount to something incredible. Even if each of us just gives a little bit, we can see what a difference that makes.” 

The food and funds raised by the Hunger Heroes competitors will support Gleaners’ work in the community to distribute a variety of well-balanced and nutritious foods – such as fresh produce, milk, shelf-stable items, and lean protein – to neighbors across Gleaners’ service territory of Wayne, Oakland, Livingston, Macomb, and Monroe counties. Gleaners continues to distribute food directly to the public through dozens of community mobile sites and through an established partner network of more than 600 agencies, including schools, soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters, and more.  

Want to become a Hunger Hero? Schools, parents, and students who are interested in participating in the upcoming 2022-2023 Hunger Heroes competition can contact Katie Body, Community Giving Manager at Gleaners at kbody@gcfb.org