Investing in the Lives of Kids

Children are facing many challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. Gleaners is making sure hunger is not one of their worries. The Making Investments in the Lives of Kids Movement expands our efforts to provide highly nutritious food to every child in need. And we are delivering more healthy meals than ever before.

Gleaners is on track to deliver 80 million pounds of food this year—nearly half of which is fresh produce and dairy. This commitment to nourishing our community helps ensure families can access their most basic needs and get back to focusing on their path to success.  


Gleaners’ M.I.L.K. Gala

Starting in 2018, this annual fall event invited our community to directly support the Making Investments in the Lives of Kids (M.I.L.K.) Movement. The Gala shines an important spotlight on the vital role healthy food plays in the development of a child.

With the cancellation of the 2020 in-person event, the invitation to support this vital movement is extended to our entire community.

Watch a message from other M.I.L.K. Movement supporters:


A Movement for this Urgent Moment  
With many schools relying on virtual learning this fall, more than 310,000 children might be going hungry. Recent projections report that nearly one in every four children living in southeast Michigan will face barriers keeping them from the healthy meals they deserve.  

For example: In Wayne County, 30% of children will not have sufficient access to food, while the amount of kids going hungry in Livingston County will more than double.

2020 Child Food Insecurity %2018 Child Food Insecurity %
Wayne County, Michigan29.20%20.00%
Oakland County, Michigan16.40%8.20%
Livingston County, Michigan16.00%7.20%
Monroe County, Michigan20.60%11.90%
Macomb County, Michigan21.70%12.60%

Healthy foods like fresh milk and produce offer vital nutrients for growing kids. Children with little or no access to nutritious food throughout the day face challenges when it comes to their education, health and behavior, according to the National Education Association.

Gleaners remains focused on reaching these students. Our School Food Mobile Program serves school communities throughout the region. Additionally, our COVID-19 response efforts address the needs of more than 325,000 households with school-age kids in the neighborhoods where they live. Families visiting these sites receive enough produce, grains, lean proteins, fresh milk and wholesome shelf-stable goods for 30 well-rounded meals.

Gleaners is dedicated to eliminating barriers keeping kids and their families from accessing nutritious food. Here are some stories from our families with school-age children:


At the start of the pandemic, Nasrin Saleh’s husband lost his job at a local bakery. Her family had to rely on savings to cover monthly bills. It wasn’t soon before Nasrin was worried about gas for the family car and even food for her children. “We didn’t want to ask for help. I didn’t want to speak up,” she said. “But my kids need to eat, and we need to have money for other things—it’s hard.” Nasrin’s cousin told her about Gleaners’ monthly food distribution that runs year-round. She was both ecstatic and relieved. Nasrin can attend the day-time food distribution and pick her kids up on the way home. Nasrin said that receiving groceries is more helpful than individual meals, because she saves travel time and has more variety of food in the house. “They are growing up—I know we should have milk,” she said. “It’s so wonderful. Everyone should have this at their school.”


Betty Hernández is a single mother, raising two young children, ages four and eight. Since March, Betty has lost one day of income per week as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. With a tighter budget, Betty said she is having a hard time accessing healthy options for her young kids. On Thursdays, Betty visits Gleaners’ Fresh Market Pantry at the Mercado Food Hub, a new service that launched in June 2020. Her family receives 45 pounds of fruits and vegetables, three cartons of eggs, fresh dairy, lean protein and a gallon of milk. “The food helps us get by,” said Betty. “The fresh produce is really wonderful. The kids like the fruit, milk and cereal. I prefer them to eat as healthy as possible.”


Lumona Johnson attends one of Gleaners’ School Food Mobile in Warren during months when her family struggles to make ends meet. “The kids love the cereal and milk—I can’t keep enough in the house. And the fresh produce is good for us all,” she said. “I appreciate that we can come when money is tight.” Lumona’s visits to the drive-up food distribution have become more frequent during the COVID-19 pandemic. Her children, ages 11, 14 and 16, have always relied on school meals. With the children at home during the extended school closures and the start of the school year, the family’s food budget is tighter than ever. The variety of food Lumona receives at Gleaners’ drive-up distribution helps supplement any meal support that may come from the school. “I am struggling just to keep everything straight,” Lumona said. “Having groceries helps, since we get a lot of food all at once. This truly goes a long way for us.”


How You Can Help:

You can help create a healthy future for our kids. By joining this year’s Gala and supporting the M.I.L.K. Movement, you will play a vital role in providing fresh healthy food to children during their greatest hour of need.

Give now—and your gift will make twice the impact! The first $100,000 in gifts will be matched, thanks to our generous friend Mr. Carroll L. Knight.