From Our Chefs

How to Help Your Local Food Bank

In tough times, we can choose to band together. There’s nothing more important than helping our neighbors. With millions of Americans filing for unemployment, there are many individuals and families in sudden need. Food banks across the country are seeing a meteoric rise in demand. The current stay-at-home recommendations have left many feeling like they have their hands tied. There may be a solution at a local food bank.

Chef Tim Crandall and his partner Nicole Zammit, who works as a Food Access Manager at Gleaners Community Food Bank in Detroit, have been hard at work. We chatted with them to hear about their experience with the pandemic. We also discussed how we all can help our own local communities.

the line at Gleaners Food Bank
Gleaners Community Food Bank by Jim West/ZUMA

What Gleaners Food Bank is Doing

Gleaners is a highly awarded food bank. It highlights the efficiency and scale at which they typically operate. The food bank serves 5 counties in Southeast Michigan and has rapidly expanded operations in channels they’re familiar with.

Increasing distributions, expanding their mobile distributions, and maintaining their normal day-to-day programs has been a challenge the organization has taken on with full force. Gleaners partners with schools, Headstart programs, senior living facilities and the like.

A total shift in operations has been required to minimize contact and reach a greater scope of individuals. As a COVID-19 response, they’ve implemented: a new drive up food distribution, created quarantine boxes, added more senior specific programs, and expanded “my mobile grocery.” The mobile grocery provides low cost groceries and is currently targeting senior high rise complexes.

Tim Crandall’s Image at Gleaners

How You Can Help

The decrease in volunteer work as a result of state shutdowns and a simultaneous increase in the need to scale up operations has put a tremendous amount of stress on food banks.

Wondering the best way you can help out? Reach out to your local food bank. Some volunteer opportunities may not require a physical presence outside of your own home. You may be able to donate your time either in person or through remote assistance such as data entry. Some banks may even be hiring temp. employees during this time. Donating hand sewn masks, canned goods or money can have a huge positive impact on your community.

Tim Crandall’s Image at Gleaners

3 Ways to Help Your Local Community:

Donate Money

Create a Virtual Food Drive

Learn About Hunger

It’s important to remember that each bank is unique. They may not have the exact volunteer opportunity you have in mind. Both Nicole and Chef Tim said they’ve felt a sense of control and reduction in anxiety with their help. They can tangibly see the difference they're making.

If donating time, money or energy to a food bank seems out of reach, you can still help out by checking in on loved ones. For any questions, advice, or more info on how to help your community feel free to message us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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