The Food Bank of Eastern Michigan staff, led by President and CEO Kara Ross, has continued to rise to the challenge to help feed those who are facing hunger. Throughout the pandemic, it has maintained an open line of communication with faith leaders, schools, health care facilities, soup kitchens and other partners to assess how the emergency declaration changed their needs and how the Food Bank can help fill gaps in services.

Based on feedback, it shifted its distribution models to help more families, children and senior citizens obtain food. Working with local law enforcement, the state of Michigan, the National Guard and community partners, the Food Bank is supporting local organizations to provide food to the most vulnerable populations with drive-through distributions and home deliveries each week, all while maintaining safe distances. The Food Bank has also seen a dramatic decline in donations from national retail corporate partners, which increases competition for product nationally from third-party food vendors.

Then, in the middle of the pandemic, five eastern Michigan counties experienced a 500-year flood, causing thousands to be evacuated. Within 24 hours, the Food Bank was on-site at all five emergency shelters with food for displaced families. In an effort to send food to areas with the most need, 55 semi loads of food are dispatched each week, with enough food to feed approximately 300 families for eight days.

From mid-March through August, the Food Bank has distributed 26.4 million pounds of food, a 95 percent increase over the same period last year. Unfortunately, it is anticipated the high number of families who are seeking food assistance, many for the first time, will be doing so for the next 12 to 18 months.

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