Our 2020: A Reflection on Community & COVID-19

The pandemic changed everything for us. We knew that we had to keep serving because it meant that our neighbors that need us had one less thing to worry about: food. So, we quickly came up with a COVID-friendly model of distribution, a drive-thru where people drive up, pop their trunk, and get food to feed their families. But to implement this model safely, we had to start boxing up the food, something we hadn’t done before. This is where our volunteers came in. Since March, so many of them are here week after week, boxing up nearly 20,000 pounds of food per day; they have been packing 75% of the food we’ve distributed throughout the pandemic!

Partners throughout our counties have also stepped up. We have about 285 partners — these are schools, pantries, or other nonprofits that distribute food to their communities in our 8 counties. They have stuck with us through the pandemic and are on the front lines getting food out to people.

At the pantry we hold every Tuesday at South Michigan Food Bank, we have consistently served between 375 and 475 households. Before COVID-19, this pantry typically served between 80 and 150 households. One woman said that the Food Bank’s provision had given her financial freedom to pay bills and afford other necessities. “Things we don’t have or can’t acquire on our own, you guys are providing, and we just appreciate it. You take care of and are prepared for a lot of things, but this is an overwhelming experience. We just thank you!”

This food bank has never been needed more than it’s needed right now, and we’re so proud to be stepping up and making a difference. Throughout COVID-19, we have been distributing 85% more food than we were pre-pandemic; by the end of 2020, we had provided over 14.5 million pounds of food throughout our eight counties!

At the end of the day, what we found was that the people of South Michigan care about their neighbors and want to help out, and we are so grateful for that. We don’t know what 2021 will bring, but we do know that we’re committed to serving this community. We’re not standing alone. We’re a community resource; we’re all in this together.

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