As the sun sets, Forgotten Harvest’s mobile food pantry offers drive-thru trunk delivery of food assistance to vehicles Jan. 21 at Delia Park in Sterling Heights. Cars were lined up well before the 4:30 start.

As the sun sets, Forgotten Harvest’s mobile food pantry offers drive-thru trunk delivery of food assistance to vehicles Jan. 21 at Delia Park in Sterling Heights. Cars were lined up well before the 4:30 start.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


As coronavirus effects linger, charities look ahead

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published January 22, 2021

 A long line of vehicles queue up to receive the food.

A long line of vehicles queue up to receive the food.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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STERLING HEIGHTS — A turbulent 2020 is over, but a couple of local charities continue to expect brisk demand in 2021.

The Macomb County Rotating Emergency Shelter Team is a nonprofit that helps around 600 homeless people annually. It feeds and shelters its guests, as well as offering some various assistance services.

MCREST CEO April Fidler said her charity is anticipating greater demand for the first quarter of 2021. According to MCREST, its previous monthly lodging capacity was 60 people, and now it’s increased to an estimated 180 people.

“Our demand is much greater during the past holidays, as well as during the COVID season,” she explained.

According to Fidler, MCREST usually operates by rotating guests among participating churches throughout Macomb County. The charity said more than 70 churches are normally part of its network, which includes eight partnering churches in Sterling Heights.

But since the pandemic, most churches have closed or are unable to provide shelter services. As a result, MCREST is currently keeping its guests at a Roseville hotel in order to better facilitate social distancing. Fidler said MCREST intends to use the hotel for the foreseeable future.

MCREST gets aid from Macomb County Emergency Management, plus a Housing and Urban Development Emergency Solutions Grant and aid from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act.

The charity also announced last November that it planned to start a campaign, Returning Home, to renovate a building in Mount Clemens to shelter and offer resources to homeless families, including children. The campaign is for $300,000.

Fidler said MCREST has gotten “our typical donations through the holidays,” even amid the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the food pantry charity Forgotten Harvest has had a presence in Sterling Heights in January. Its “On the Go” mobile food pantry visited the Sterling Heights Community Center one day and then moved to Delia Park.  

Forgotten Harvest spokesman Christopher Ivey said Sterling Heights was identified as an “area of need that was being underserved.” He added in an email that the mobile food pantry has been successful and, in one night, served almost 500 families.

“The new location worked very well, and the flow of people coming for help was very steady,” he added.

He said that after the mobile food pantry finishes its January appearances, the charity will further “work with the city to determine the continued need and a more permanent solution.”  

Ivey said the demand for food assistance has been “incredible” since March. To compare, before the COVID-19 pandemic, Forgotten Harvest estimated that 584,000 metro Detroiters had food insecurity. That number has since grown to over 700,000, he said.  

“We anticipate that the need will continue as long as the recovery from the pandemic continues,” he said. “The economic challenges and joblessness may last well into the next few years.”  

Ivey said Forgotten Harvest is glad and grateful that donors have continued to donate.

“The community and corporate partners, through their generous support of Forgotten Harvest, made it possible for us to rescue and distribute more food and ultimately help more people that have come to our lines or our pantry partners for help,” he said.

Find out more about Forgotten Harvest by visiting forgottenharvest.org. Learn more about MCREST by visiting mcrest.org.

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