The holiday season is a time of joy, and if one's lucky, of plenty.
Sadly hunger continues to be a problem, with one in four Michigan children living in poverty and nearly half qualifying for free or low-cost school lunches. Some of these youngsters can only look forward to plenty of hunger pangs, but here at Patch we want to help.
Patch.com has launched an online food drive, with all of its 30 Michigan sites participating. Patch is partnering with Gleaners Community Food Bank in this virtual food drive, and the goal is to raise $10,000 by Nov. 17 to help feed local families.
While Gleaners doesn't directly serve Washtenaw County, all money donated through Saline Patch will be directed through Ann Arbor-based Food Gatherers to be provided to local families.
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- Forty percent of the people Gleaners helps are under the age of 18, and it provides 45 million pounds of food every year to Michigan's hungry through a partnership of hundreds of food pantries, schools, soup kitchens, shelters and nonprofit agencies. While 45 million pounds is a massive number, it's still not enough.
- The five southeast Michigan counties where Gleaners offers — Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland and Wayne — saw double-digit increases in children qualifying for free and discounted school lunch programs.
- More than 317,000 are in need of a warm, nutritious meal in school.
That being said, you can help -- or get help -- in any number of ways.
- To find the nearest emergency food provider, visit www.pantrynet.org or call United Way’s 2-1-1 line, which Natalie Fotias, marketing manager for Gleaners, says can connect people with other basic needs, too.
- Gleaners has ongoing food drives, too, learn more at www.gcfb.org to find out what’s happening near you.
- Volunteers are also welcome. People can pack food boxes, teach cooking classes, tend gardens and more.
There are other ways to fight the hunger problem.
- Volunteer at Meals on Wheels
- Donate to your local food pantry, including the one at Saline Social Services
And, of course, one can always donate. Gleaners can turn $1 into three meals.
There are several ongoing efforts, in addition to Patch’s partnership with Gleaners, to help:
- Give a Hand for the Holidays, where people are invited to hold a food drive or raise funds for Gleaners by Dec. 31, to help feed the hungry over the holidays.
- Dec. 17 is Double Your Donation Day, where any donations made that day will be matched. Visit www.gcfb.org/donate to learn more.
- Kroger is starting 2013 with a plan to help Gleaners. Every Saturday in January Kroger stores across metro Detroit will collect food and money to help familes in need. The Gleaners website will post participating locations beginning in December.