Volunteers Help Combat Hunger During the Pandemic Crisis

Our mission to feed people and nourish our community is made possible through the generosity of so many. Individuals and organizations who volunteer their time offer vital support to Gleaners Community Food Bank and our hungry neighbors. In 2019, our volunteers clocked more than 160,000 hours packing and sorting food, caring for our gardens and helping seniors access healthy food among other activities.

Like many food banks, Gleaners suspended the majority of our volunteer shifts during the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order issued in Michigan. This decision was also made in compliance with our safety measures and social distancing recommendations. On June 15, we began welcoming back our volunteers to help the Gleaners’ team reach anyone in need of emergency food. It has been a heartwarming reunion.

Employees from Barton Malow volunteer at Gleaners’ Distribution Center in Pontiac, Michigan.

“We were aware that food banks have had to change the way they operate. Crucial resources are not available in the same capacity while at the same time, the need is growing,” said Amanda DeBene, Administrative Supervisor at Barton Malow. “It is important that we give back to these types of organizations so they can continue to serve our community during this time.”

As a family-owned company, Barton Malow’s culture is deeply rooted in community building. The team is empowered to get involved and give back by the company’s inspiring purpose statement: Building with the American Spirit, People, Projects and Communities. Each year, Barton Malow begins the month of August with a full week of service. Gleaners is honored to host their team for several years and counting.

This year, employees volunteered at Gleaners’ Pontiac Distribution Center, packing boxes of emergency food bound for seniors and at-risk individuals across Michigan. “It was a very rewarding experience,” said Amanda. “To see box after box get packed and knowing that each one would go to someone in need was powerful.” The team packed up more than 7,000 pounds of food during their shifts, totaling 8,400 meals for vulnerable individuals and their families.

The Barton Malow team also assisted our My Neighborhood Mobile Grocery program, helping the residents at the Royal Oak Senior living complex have access to healthy fresh food. “The ability to provide seniors with essential items and keep them safe during a pandemic was a great thing to witness, said DeBene. By helping seniors place orders and deliver the food to their doorsteps, Amanda and her team are keeping hundreds of local seniors stay nourished and stay healthy. 

Dedicated Gleaners’ volunteers help fill orders for guests of the My Neighborhood Mobile Grocery program in Detroit, Michigan.

John Cruitt also volunteers at My Neighborhood Mobile Grocery, which has been serving record numbers of patrons since the start of the pandemic. In 2019, he donated 313 hours of his time to help feed our community. As an avid volunteer, John works four sites every week, helping Gleaners serve 3,000 seniors across the Detroit Metro area. During the pandemic crisis, he has been working alongside Sara Tatchio, another dedicated volunteer. “This is the thing that is keeping me connected in this situation,” said Sara. “Everybody is so grateful, fun and kind.” She says that volunteering offers her purpose and makes her feel more hopeful.

Volunteer with Gleaners

Join Gleaners in helping feed our community in southeast Michigan during this great time of need. Opportunities are available for individuals or small groups and offer essential services to your community. Gleaners mandates all employees, volunteers and partners follow thorough protocols and procedures to ensure safe working environments and food distributions. Face masks must be worn and social distancing will be maintained during all volunteer shifts.

My Neighborhood Mobile Grocery is Gleaners’ nutrition-focused pop-up grocery that provides seniors who have limited access to affordable, healthy foods with a shopping option within their own community – a very important option during these difficult times.  Help set-up the market, collect and bag orders and clean-up at end. Shift times vary and are offered Monday–Friday and locations vary.

Mobile Pantry at the Ford Resource and Engagement Center 2 provides fresh groceries to families in need through a drive-up model. Help pack food and place groceries into the car trunks of visiting guests. Volunteers will be working outside, so please dress for the weather. 

Salvaged food scanning at Gleaners’ Pontiac Distribution Center helps reduce food waste. By rescuing food from Kroger retail stores at our Pontiac Distribution Center. Help scan and sort donated food from Kroger retail stores. Shift times vary.

Process donated food at Gleaners’ Livingston Distribution Center. Sort and package food, collect orders for shipments, preparing supplies for food drives and more. Shifts run Tuesdays from 1:00–3:00 p.m., 6:30 p.m.–8pm and Wednesdays 10:00 a.m. –12:00 p.m.

Assist with Gleaners’ Special Events. Even during the pandemic, we continue to have occasional opportunities for volunteers to assist with special events. 

Care for the Livingston Victory Garden that provides fresh local produce directly to Gleaners’ pantry partners. Help form beds, compost, seed, mulch, transplant, weed and harvest while learning more about the garden and its benefits. Shift days and times vary.

Host a Virtual Food & Fund Drive

If you cannot volunteer in person, host a Virtual Food Drive and encourage your friends, family and colleagues to give back. Set up is simple, and donations are made through a secure and easy-to-use online shopping experience. Your support allows Gleaners to acquire our most needed items and helps to end hunger in your community.

Donate Today and Double Your Impact!

Monetary donations continue to be the most effective way to help end hunger in southeast Michigan. Now through September 7, every donation to the Hunger Free Summer Plus campaign will be matched, thanks to Citizens Bank and our generous donors. $1 = six meals!