A year ago, Specialist (SPC) Jeremiah Brooket of the Michigan Army National Guard was working a landscaping job in Adrian, his hometown. Today, he’s in uniform, fulfilling orders for the food bank’s agency partners. He moves food safely from shelf or freezer to van and takes care of our agencies, so they can ensure neighbors can feed their families.
SPC Brooket enlisted in the Army National Guard in late November 2018, soon after graduating high school, but never expected the state would call him to serve.
“At first, I was shocked,” he recalled. “They said ‘food bank’ and I was like, ‘What’s a food bank?’ Then we got here and I was like, ‘Oh wow, I’m down for it. Let’s do it.’”
Before enlisting, SPC Brooket had first wanted to go into active duty but chose the National Guard in part because of inspiration from uncles and other relatives who had enlisted in the past.
“It’s rare to actually get called to serve,” he said. “To have the opportunity to serve my community first hand, it’s uplifting. It’s a good feeling.”
Serving at the food bank opened his eyes to hunger’s reality. On his first day, a staff member illustrated the need by pointing out to a group of soldiers how, statistically speaking, one of them would be facing hunger, since 1 in 6 neighbors in our service area is.
“I was shocked because growing up, I was privileged to be able to have warm food and shelter,” he said. “You don’t think about that person on the street, where their next meal is coming from.”
He and other soldiers even took inspiration from their food bank work and distributed blankets to neighbors facing homelessness in their off-hours.
Interacting with others is SPC Brooket’s favorite part of serving. He loves giving agency partners full food boxes and seeing their happy faces. He loves working alongside (and chatting with) food bank volunteers who have served for years. And he’s loved meeting clients directly when serving at food distributions.
In the future, when the pandemic ends and SPC Brooket returns home, he’ll have to visit Grand Rapids every month for National Guard drills.
“I’m definitely going to come and volunteer,” he said. “It’s kind of crazy how moving it is. You never look at something like that until you get the experience — it’s so uplifting and amazing. I want to continue to do this.”