“You tend to forget what you have until its gone,” said Jennifer Wypiszewski of Warren.
Two years ago, Jennifer’s sister suffered a rapid decline in health and spent her 40th birthday in the hospital. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and the toll it took on her body forced her to leave her job. Soon after, she began struggling financially and the luxury of having access to food became apparent.
“We take it for granted,” Jennifer said. “She has no income. Nothing is more depressing than going to your sister’s house and finding absolutely no food – nothing in her cupboards or her refrigerator.”
Jennifer and her mom have been able to step in and help, but they can only do so much. Jennifer is married with two children to care for and support, and her mother recently retired. Thankfully, Jennifer happened upon one of Gleaners’ School Food Mobile pantries at her kids’ school and learned her sister was eligible for their monthly distribution program. She can go to the school and pick up 30 pounds of nutritious, healthy food, including fresh vegetables, fruit, whole grains and lean protein.
“It’s nice you can go there once a month and know you have food in your fridge for a little while,” Jennifer said about the impact Gleaners has had on her sister’s life. “To know that for at least two weeks, you’re not going to be returning bottles to try to get some food or asking other people to give you money to eat … it’s a huge stress relief. Without Gleaners, the struggle would be even more difficult. For some people, it’s a choice: Do I eat or do I pay a bill? With Gleaners, they can do both because they know they’ll be able to get food.”
Not only is the program a relief to Jennifer’s sister, but it is to the rest of the family as well, who worry about her and wish they could help more. It’s also crucial for living with multiple sclerosis.
“Having access to food, let alone nutritious food, is key for her health,” Jennifer said. “What Gleaners does is so wonderful and important. It’s such a relief to know that when we can’t step in to help, Gleaners is there.”
Gleaners’ School Food Mobile monthly distributions provide nutritious, healthy food to students and families at low-income schools in the five counties it serves: Livingston, Oakland, Wayne, Monroe and Macomb. To learn more about this program, to participate or make a donation, call (313) 923-3535 ext. 265 or visit https://www.gcfb.org/fighting-hunger/food-education-programs/mobile-pantries/.