By Sidnee King (NNPA/DTU Journalism Fellow, Michigan Chronicle)
Gleaners Community Food Bank, a non-profit group based in Detroit, Mich., that distributes 79,000 meals per day, recently launched the 2016 “Hunger Free Summer” campaign.
According to the USDA, more than 20 million children rely on free or reduced-price school lunches. The campaign is one of the food bank’s efforts to ensure that no child goes without food this summer.
The “Hunger Free Summer” campaign is tackling what many say is a big problem in Southeast Michigan. According to a 2016 report from Kids Count in Michigan, 46 percent of Michigan students are eligible for reduced-price or free meals in school. The report also stated that 42 percent of those children that receive reduce-price or free school lunches live in Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland or Wayne County.
That means that an estimated 300,000 children that live in southeast Michigan qualify for the program.
When schools close for the summer, many of these students lose guaranteed meals. Gleaners hopes to provide stability for these students by distributing eight truckloads of food to its school and community programs every week for the next 12 weeks.
Gleaners programs supported by Hunger Free Summer include its School-Based Mobile Pantry, Summer Lunch program and the new Michigan Food Bank Access to Nutrition program. Each of these programs reaches thousands of children with high-needs and their families every month.
Volunteers rose early to help pack food and learn from the Gerry Brisson, the president of Gleaners, about the importance of the “Hunger Free Summer” program.
“The meals we raise through ‘Hunger Free Summer’ offer immediate and much-needed relief and stability to those families, so their children can return to school healthy and ready to learn,” Brisson said. “I’m grateful to Citizens and all of our match partners for making this possible
The Citizens Bank and Ford Motor Company are partners in the campaign. Both companies will match every dollar donated to the campaign.
Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief charity, and the Food Bank Council of Michigan, collects food and money for Michigan food banks, has also partnered with the campaign.
Sidnee King is a 2016 NNPA “Discover The Unexpected” (DTU) journalism fellow at the Michigan Chronicle. The DTU journalism fellowship program is sponsored by Chevrolet. Check out more stories by the fellows by following the hashtag #DiscoverTheUnexpected on Twitter and Instagram. Learn more about the program at nnpa.org/dtu.