Nonprofits, businesses join forces to fight hunger

Donations being accepted to feed children over the summer

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published August 3, 2011

 Children from Cairns Community Center of Mount Clemens enjoy lunch during the Hunger Free Summer campaign launch June 24.

Children from Cairns Community Center of Mount Clemens enjoy lunch during the Hunger Free Summer campaign launch June 24.

Photo provided by Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan

The following are active distribution sites for Gleaners Summer Lunch, BackPack, and/or Mobile Pantry programs in C & G Newspapers’ coverage zone:
· Ben Ross Public School Academy, 8525 Cole Dr. (Backpack)
· Keith Bovenschen School, 12345 Frazho Road (Backpack)
· Academy of Warren, 83943 East Eight Mile Road (Summer Lunch, Backpack)
· Lord of the Harvest Church, 21601 Schoenherr Road (Summer Lunch, Backpack)
· Van Dyke Public Schools / Washington Elementary, 11400 Continental (Mobile Pantry)
· Global Preparatory Academy, 26200 Ridgemont St. (Backpack) Madison Heights
· Wilkinson Middle School, 26524 John R Road (Summer Lunch, Backpack)
· Refugee ESL Summer Learning Academy, 32640 Concord (Summer Lunch, Backpack)
· Southeastern Michigan Indians/Hazel Park Indian Education Program, 1585 Mapledale St. (Summer Lunch, Backpack)
Oak Park
· Oak Park Parks and Recreation, 14300 Oak Park Blvd. Clinton Township
· L’Anse Creuse Schools / Administration Building, 24600 Pankow Blvd. (Mobile Pantry)
Harrison Township
· L’Anse Creuse Schools, 36727 Jefferson Ave.* (Backpack)
* NOTE: The backpacks are delivered to the district’s warehouse, where they are then distributed to a number of schools in the district: 10 elementary schools, four middle schools and three high schools.
— For more information about the distribution sites or programs, call Gleaners at (313) 923-3535.

METRO DETROIT — In the land of plenty, plenty are left unfed.

One in five children in Michigan live in poverty, according to Kids Count in Michigan 2010. And in Southeast Michigan, more than 300,000 children receive free or reduced-price meals in school.

This means that when school is out for summer, many kids are at risk of missing meals, depriving them of the nutrition needed to grow up healthy and strong.

Looking to address this problem, the 10-week Hunger Free Summer campaign, running through Sept. 1, aims to provide two million meals to hungry Southeast Michigan children this summer. The campaign’s goal is to raise $250,000. When it launched in June, it raised more than $36,000 in its first week.

Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan and Forgotten Harvest, underwritten by Charter One Foundation and backed by various corporate donors, will use the money to provide children with food through the Summer Lunch, Backpack, Daily Bread and Mobile Pantry programs, with every $1 donation providing eight nutritious lunches for hungry children.

The corporate donors are Hiller’s, Ford Motor Co. Fund and Community Services, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and TMT Racing. They, along with the Young Foundation, are matching all funds collected, dollar for dollar. In addition, Hollywood Markets, while not matching dollars, are collecting donations in their stores. Hiller’s, which is matching funds, is also collecting donations in-store.

“Charter One has invested in a strategy around this issue due to the devastating effects of childhood hunger,” said Sandy Pierce, president of Charter One Michigan. “Hunger Free Summer, our Michigan campaign, is one of the biggest, thanks to the participation of other corporate and community partners.

“We know we can’t solve this issue alone,” she said. “We are all committed to providing the best future for our region’s children. Working together, we can have a greater impact.”

One program that the campaign benefits is Gleaners’ Backpack program. Fifty sites in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties will distribute about 42,000 backpacks over 10 weeks of summer, each with about six meals for a grand total of 252,000 meals.

Each backpack consists of a shelf-stable milk; cereal (oatmeal or whole-grain cereal when possible); a can or cup of fruit; one can of vegetables, such as green beans or corn; and two proteins, such as beef stew or chili.

Another program is Forgotten Harvest’s Daily Bread program, which feeds people in neighborhoods other programs don’t reach in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, as well as Detroit. This program will distribute 200,000 meals over 10 weeks this summer.

Then there’s Gleaners’ and Forgotten Harvest’s Mobile Pantry, a partnership with schools and community organizations to provide food to children in struggling households. Each distribution provides about 200 households with 50 pounds of nonperishable food, produce and meat. More than 1.4 million meals will be distributed through this program during the summer. This also meets the needs of the students’ hungry family members, including younger siblings not yet in school.

Finally, there is Gleaners’ and Forgotten Harvest’s Summer Lunch program, where each week, children at 46 sites throughout Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties will receive nutritious sack lunches. A total of 121,000 sack lunches will be provided over the summer, each with a serving of protein, fruit, vegetable, grain and dairy.

A cold lunch, for example, may contain a turkey wrap, a peach, a cucumber with ranch dressing, and milk, while a hot lunch may contain spaghetti with meat sauce, peas and corn mix, an orange, a dinner roll and milk.

DeWayne Wells, president of Gleaners, said it makes all the difference in the lives of kids facing the perils of poverty.

“When school is out, these children do not have access to school meals. This puts an enormous strain on families to keep their children fed over the summer and during holiday breaks,” Wells said. “We know that even short spells of hunger and under-nutrition can harm children’s development. It is critical that we reach these children with food during the summer.”

“The food we are providing doesn’t just chase away today’s hunger; it also helps ensure our kids have the brightest possible future,” he said. “They deserve no less.”

To donate to the Hunger Free Summer campaign, visit or call (888) 332-7140. You can also text “HFS” to 85944, which will automatically add a $10 donation to your cell phone bill, or mail a check made out to Hunger Free Summer to P.O. Box 1380, Troy, MI 48099. Donations of $1, $3, $5 or more are also being accepted at all Hiller’s and Hollywood Market checkout registers.