COMSTOCK PARK, MI – March 31, 2020 – Yesterday, members of the National Guard began assisting Feeding America West Michigan’s hunger-relief efforts as part of the state’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.
For the next three weeks, the small group of National Guard members will sort food and complete other tasks typically accomplished by volunteers.
In mid-March, the food bank modified its volunteer processes to protect volunteers, staff and clients alike. These changes included limiting the size and number of volunteer groups and the suspension of Saturday shifts. For the remainder of March, the food bank relied on its “regular” volunteers, many of whom are senior citizens.
Since COVID-19 began threatening Michigan, the food bank has seen a 235 percent spike in individuals searching for food resources on its website. While working with substantially less volunteers, the food bank has had to ramp up food distribution to meet the increased need for food assistance. In fact, Feeding America West Michigan distributed 45 percent more food in March of 2020 compared to 2019.
The National Guard aims to fill this volunteer gap, enabling the food bank to continue increasing its output in order to ensure all neighbors in need have enough to eat.
“Many older volunteers have elected to stay home, so we are filling in,” said Second Lieutenant Hunter Davidson, a Platoon Leader from Fort Custer.
The National Guard is assisting four of Michigan’s seven food banks in this way.
“We really appreciate the assistance of the National Guard. Their presence really reinforces the essential work Feeding America West Michigan provides in the community,” said Kenneth Estelle, the food bank’s president and CEO.
For more information about Feeding America West Michigan’s response to COVID-19, go to FeedWM.org/covid-19/.
About Feeding America West Michigan
Serving local families in need since 1981, Feeding America West Michigan reclaims safe surplus food from farmers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers. That food is distributed through a network of more than 800 food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and other hunger-relief agencies in 40 of Michigan’s 83 counties from the Indiana border through the Upper Peninsula. For more information, visit FeedWM.org or call 616-784-3250.