Every year, the month of September marks Hunger Action Month, where people around the country join together to raise awareness about hunger. In the 22 counties the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan serves, approximately 200,000 people (including more than 50,000 children) struggle with hunger.
Those numbers have risen during the COVID-19 pandemic. Michigan has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, leaving many families without sources of income. School buildings have been closed since March, limiting food options for kids who relied on daily school free or reduced lunch programs. Historic flooding in five northern counties in our service area displaced or caused significant damage to homes and businesses of thousands of Michiganders in May.
“Since March, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of people seeking food sources,” said Kara Ross, President & CEO of the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan. “We have distributed 26.4 million pounds of food in our 22 counties since mid-March. That’s more than a 95 percent increase over the same period of time last year. Now, as schools are reopening and the holidays approach, we know that the need for food and the services we provide is only going to increase.”
An expanded unemployment benefit from the federal CARES Act for people who lost jobs during the pandemic expired in July. With temperatures cooling in the fall and winter, financial burdens on families increase.
“We’re all living through difficult times, with high levels of worry about the health and well-being of loved ones and friends,” Ross said. “Adding a major stress like not being able to afford food adds even more anxiety to people in need. Supporting the Food Bank with donations helps us alleviate some of the pressure people in our community are feeling right now.”
There are several ways you can support the Food Bank during Hunger Action Month:
- Make a donation through the website.
- Attend the drive-through Empty Bowls event on September 17. For $30, attendees receive a bowl and a gourmet soup kit. Tickets can be purchased online, and attendees can select a pick-up time.
- Organize a virtual food drive. The Food Bank is unable to accept donated food from food drives as a precaution during the pandemic. However, many organizations have instead organized “virtual” food drives. A Food Bank staff member sets up an online fundraising page, and organizations who participate send the link to their network of contacts to raise money. Every dollar raised allows the Food Bank to provide six meals for people in need. Those interested in organizing a virtual drive can contact Katie Howicz, firstname.lastname@example.org. Organizations that have done successful virtual drives this summer include Skaff Furniture Carpet One, Kroger’s First Responders drive, the National Association of Letter Carriers, and more.
- Follow our social media pages and share our information: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.
“We would not be able to respond and be there for people in need without the amazing support of our donors and partners,” Ross said. “We are grateful for those who donate and who help us raise awareness for hunger, during Hunger Action Month and all year.”