Donations to local food banks tend to be more top of mind during the end-of-year season of giving; however, food insecurity doesn’t take a holiday. It’s a year-round issue for far too many residents that has only been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.
For the past 40 years, the Greater Lansing Food Bank has been one of several geographic food banks throughout Michigan providing that compassionate assistance by serving residents in Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, Isabella, Gratiot, Clare and Shiawassee counties.
“We usually have a drop-off in donations and volunteering a few months after the holidays,” said Michelle Lantz, CEO of the Greater Lansing Food Bank. “So, we have many volunteer opportunities during the summertime that we’d love to fill — and donations are always welcome, whether they be monetary or food.”
The food bank receives millions of pounds of food every year that it distributes to local food pantries, agencies or mobile food distribution services. Much of that food is donated by regional grocery stores like Meijer or Kroger that don’t think they can sell the food to customers for various reasons, such as the packaging promotes the Fourth of July holiday that has passed. The food is perfect, but the packaging is not as marketable, so that food gets packed up and sent over to food banks like the Greater Lansing Food Bank to distribute.
“But sometimes we just have to purchase foods that aren’t getting donated,” said Lantz. “And an example of that is with kids, through our kids’ backpack program. We distribute backpacks to children who receive free or reduced lunches from their schools. But that is only during the week, of course. So on weekends, they go hungry. We can get backpacks full of kid-friendly foods that are healthy and easy to eat.”
The Greater Lansing Food Bank also helps with local gardens to grow vegetables and fruits that can be distributed to people in the region. The food bank assists in 110 gardens. And just this year, the food bank moved into a brand-new distribution center off Interstate 69.
“This year, our goal is to distribute 12 million pounds of food,” said Lantz. “And that’s based on the fact that there are more people in our community who are in need of food than what we were able to service before.”
For more information about the Greater Lansing Food Bank or how you can get involved, visit the organization’s website at greaterlansingfoodbank.org.