COVID-19: Food Bank Council of Michigan Response
Defining reality is the first responsibility of leadership. Here is how the Food Bank Council of Michigan (FBCM) sees the need and the strategy concerning COVID-19. The need will wash over us in the coming weeks.
Wave I hit on Monday, March 16, with all schools in the state of Michigan. The FBCM network mobilized under the Summer Feeding Service Program (FSFP). A drive-through model was created with pre-packaged boxes and bags that provide up to 40 meals per family distribution and complies with the health safety protocols outlined by Governor Whitmer. FBCM worked with the Michigan Department of Education Office of Health and Nutrition Services to acquire a non-congregate waiver for the SFSP program. We are gathering totals of increased distributions over our regular workload. For example, Gleaners Community Food Bank also is distributing through an additional 56 mobile sites that are designed to fill in the gap for areas of need. This will effectively double its normal output for the month. The South Michigan Food Bank is already distributing 46% more food this week over last week. Wave I is focused on students and their families.
Wave II The toughest logistical challenges are our seniors due to their vulnerability, senior services’ reliance on senior volunteers for delivery services and the discontinuation of congregate meal service across the state. The FBCM team has developed a cross sector partnership with DHHS, the Area Agency on Aging and the Michigan Community Service Commission to deliver Senior Quarantine Boxes from our network warehouses to their doors. The Senior Q Box has 22 highly nutritional USDA standard meals. FBCM is committed to our seniors and their safety.
Wave III will be defined by specific populations that more than likely never had to negotiate with the emergency food network. These special populations include gig workers, service industry and employees of small businesses. Our drive-through distributions are a welcome relief to these residents who’ve done everything right but still find themselves in need of food for their families.
Wave IV will be prompted by the fallout from the closing of Michigan automobile plants. First, their closures will affect businesses associated with the industry. Then, a wave of people will come to us if the companies stop paying their workers.
There will be virtually no break between waves. FBCM fully expects the pandemic itself and its impact to continue for the foreseeable future. When the state re-opens for business, it will take some time for all businesses and employees to rebound. The Food Bank Council and our network will continue to serve the needs of our communities throughout and beyond the pandemic.
The Distribution Model developed for mobile distributions is designed to honor the safety protocols that are currently in place, keep our team members safe and get emergency food to people in need. This drive-through model minimizes interaction, captures required data and gets high-quality food to people in need. If further orders, such as shelter in place, are issued and the needs of senior citizens rise, the FBCM will adjust accordingly. It’s what we do.
This is the framework FBCM is using to determine how best to meet the community’s emerging needs. I hope it is helpful for you to see how this is forming in our minds. Normally, we would ask for your time, talent and treasure in coming alongside of our hungry neighbors. Today, however, I am simply asking for your treasure. We want you to stay safe, but we need your help in getting the necessary funds flowing in order to keep the food flowing to each group represented in our WAVE strategy.