GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As many families across Michigan are without jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, West Michigan food banks say the demand for food has sky rocketed.
Kids Food Basket serves more than 70 distribution sites in Muskegon, Allegan, Kent and Ottawa counties. In the last week, KFB says some of their distribution sites have requested six times more food daily.
“This has been my career for 18 years and I feel right now more committed and like we’re more needed than we have ever been before,” Bridget Clark Whitney, the founding CEO of Kids Food Basket, said.
Clark Whitney says before the pandemic, their volunteers were packing and delivering 9,000 meals per day. She says after Michigan was hit hard with unemployment and COVID-19 cases, the need for food increased substantially.
“The narrative that we’re getting from some of our distribution sites is that some of our families have run out resources, many of whom have been furloughed, who have been out of work,” she added. “As the rest of the world has to scale back and as our families are in crisis, it is our job to scale forward.”
Clark Whitney says KFB had to temporarily get rid of their 250 daily volunteers because of social distance orders. Now, their staff has been forced to pack thousands of meals meals, along with their daily work so local kids can eat.
“Now with school being shut down and those daily meals not being available for 75,000 kids, it really does present not just a huge gap, but it really does put a lot of children in the position of being food insecure and struggling to find food,” Clark Whitney said.
She says the heightened food insecurity that families are facing now will likely continue months after the pandemic has been controlled.
“We feel like (food is) the best gift that there is. There’s nothing more important that we can do than make sure that every one of our Michiganders has good healthy food,” Clark Whitney said.
Kids Food Basket is not able to accept volunteers at this time but says the community can still engage and help feed local families in need. KFB says the best way to support them right now is by donating money if possible. They say community members can also buy and decorate brown or white sack lunch bags and mail them to their Grand Rapids headquarters.
More information can be found on Kids Food Basket’s website.