School Food Mobiles Address Increase in Need During State of Emergency

Together with our partners, Gleaners manages 96 School Food Mobile sites across southeast Michigan. Each drive-up food distribution provides families in need with approximately 30 pounds of nutritious food to get through the month.

With schools closed, and nearly 300,000 students going without the free and reduced-price school meals they rely on, many of our School Food Mobile sites are ramping up distributions. Each of these sites have seen a dramatic increase in need.

A School Food Mobil in Detroit
Gleaners School Food Mobile FOCUS: Hope in Detroit on March 18

FOCUS: Hope, a nonprofit profit organization serving children, mothers, and seniors in Detroit, hosted a School Food Mobile on March 18. In just one hour, their staff packed and served emergency food to more than 200 cars, which is twice the number of families the site typically sees each month. “The circumstances are dire right now,” said Juan Ruiz, Operations Manager at FOCUS: Hope.“During school breaks—this food is so helpful. Certain months when funds are low and SNAP benefits run out, I know these kids are going hungry.”

“Some of us are lucky enough to be able to stock up for weeks. But for so many others, that’s just not possible,” said William Birndorf president of Higher Hopes!, a charitable foundation that supports Gleaners’ School Food Mobiles at FOCUS: Hope and several Head Start programs in Detroit. Birndorf makes it a point to visit each monthly distribution. “It strikes me to see what’s going on with this virus and how it’s affecting struggling people in Detroit. I realized how fragile it is out there for families.”

Gleaners School Food Mobile at Beer Middle School in Warren on March 20

Principal Robin Stanton of Beer Middle School handed out milk during a School Food Mobile Distribution on March 20. A long line of cars snaked through the parking lot as an assembly line of school staff placed groceries into the trucks of each vehicle. “I want to make sure kids eat—period. More than 75 percent of our kids rely on free and reduced meal programs,” said Principal Stanton. “I hate to imagine how many of my kids are going hungry when they are out of school.” Stanton reported that 797 individuals were provided with enough food to last one month during their March distribution.

Gleaners School Food Mobile with Communities in Schools in Dearborn on March 31

“The Gleaners’ food distributions have helped us spend much more time with our community,” said Zahra Ahmed, Site Coordinator at Communities in Schools (CIS), Gleaners’ partner that hosts School Food Mobiles in several Dearborn public schools. On March 31, CIS hosted a Gleaners drive-up mobile food distribution to serve more than 100 families. In addition, Gleaners helped pack emergency food boxes that the CIS team delivered to more than 80 families in the local school community. “If these families do not have anything—they have us. Without the School Food Mobile program, we would have never known the need.”

As an essential service provider, Gleaners will continue to provide food to our partners and people in need across southeast Michigan. In addition to our School Food Mobiles, the Gleaners team is working expanded hours to manage 55 new drive-up mobile food distribution sites across the region.

Need help? Call 2-1-1- to be connected to an emergency food assistance nearest you. Visit our food distribution page for more information about Gleaners’ drive-up sites.

Want to help? Donate today and your gift will be matched, dollar for dollar.
To support these increased food distribution efforts, Gleaners needs your help. Thanks to PNC Bank and a group of generous donors, your gift today will go twice as far, helping us reach even more people in need during this urgent time.