Quick Lane teams help tackle hunger during holiday visit to Gleaners

Many hungry neighbors in southeast Michigan are benefiting from the volunteer hustle and grit of the University of Minnesota and Central Michigan University football teams.

On the eve of their battle in the Quick Lane Bowl on December 28 at Ford Field, the teams huddled at Gleaners, opting to bench press potatoes instead of weights. When the dust settled, the teams combined to pack 35,000 pounds of potatoes, with CMU edging out the Golden Gophers 18,000 to 17,000. Even though our hungry neighbors are the biggest winners from these efforts, the players themselves also benefited from the experience according to Minnesota head coach Tracy Claeys.

“I think our players realized that there are always people in need. That problem will never go away, but we can help fix it if people pull together to help one another out. Sometimes, all a person needs is a helping a hand or some compassion, and I think our players learned that even a little bit of help can go a long way in improving somebody’s day,” Claeys said.

In addition to packing potatoes, the teams went into overtime, combining to pack more than 2,500 BackPacks for hungry kids, who often miss out on meals during their holiday break from school. While the home state Chippewas may have come up short on the scoreboard (Minnesota won the Quick Lane Bowl 21-14), CMU head coach John Bonamego said the visit to Detroit and volunteer work at Gleaners added to his players bowl game experience. 

“Giving back to the community is always rewarding, but I know that this event was extra special to many of our student-athletes and staff because they were helping people in the Detroit community. So many of us have a connection to this great city and want to do whatever we can to help it. What makes bowl games special is the experiences that happen around the actual game and nothing is more rewarding then spending time helping people.”

If you’d like to help us solve hunger in southeast Michigan, we’d love to hear from you. Click here to sign up for a volunteer shift at one of our distribution centers, or to help with one of our many important programs and events.