Like all organizations, the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan has faced operational changes as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the need for volunteers.
Due to the outbreak, the Food Bank has implemented extra safety precautions, including limiting volunteer groups to smaller sizes, spacing out work stations in our Hunger Solution Center (HSC), and ensuring that all volunteers have access to hand sanitizer and other cleaning products. To ensure the ability to monitor the total volunteers in the facility each day, the Food Bank has suspended its online sign-up page and is asking individuals to call (810) 396-0210 to see what day and time will work best.
The extra precautions are being taken because support from volunteers is still vital to the Food Bank’s ability to get food to people in need in the 22 counties it serves.
“We would not be able to get food sorted, processed, and ready for distribution without the more than 7,000 volunteers who serve the Food Bank each year,” said Kara Ross, President and CEO of the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan. “We are taking extra precautions to ensure everyone’s safety, but we are also still hoping that people who are healthy and have extra time to spare will call, come in, and help us get food ready for families who need it.”
Kidd Company, a screen printing, embroidery, and creative business in Clio, Michigan, has, like all businesses, been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. But a group of their employees decided to use this time as an opportunity to give back to the community.
“I think this is a chance for people, especially people in organization leadership, to be an example,” said Ray Markey, art director at the Kidd Company. “We want to be an example for other organizations to give back to the community and be socially responsible.”
The Food Bank has numerous volunteer opportunities. Volunteers in the Hunger Solution Center sort donated food to prepare it for distribution. The HSC also includes a repack room, or “clean room,” where bulk items are sorted into smaller portions to distribute individually. Because volunteers in the repack room are fully covered, it is perfect for individuals who have food allergies.
The Food Bank’s food rescue program, Middle Mile, is also in need of volunteer drivers. Drivers pick up donated food items from Genesee County Little Caesars franchises and transport it to agencies that are able to serve the food to people in need.
The Food Bank also accommodates volunteers as young as 14, so students who aren’t in school and are looking for things to do can volunteer.
“We are grateful for our volunteers,” Ross said. “Even in times of emergency like this, the need for food is always present. We will keep our environment and volunteers clean and safe, following all recommended protocols, as we work together to fight hunger.”