This article originally appeared in the Detroit News on November 24, 2014, when Bank of America’s Give a Meal program with Feeding America was matching individual donations. The bank reached its goal of providing a match of $1.5 million to Feeding America and has since closed the Give a Meal program. However, readers are still encouraged to donate to Forgotten Harvest, Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan, their local food bank and Feeding America.
As the temperatures grow colder, now is the perfect time to recognize the impact hunger has on Detroit and the ways each of us can be a part of the solution. Tackling hunger is a critical first step to creating a stronger community.
Unfortunately, many hard-working Michiganians who have experienced loss of income have to choose between providing food for their families and paying for basic needs such as housing or medical care. Nearly 1 in 5 people in the tri-county area face food insecurity with more than 5 percent of people visiting food banks in our community each year. Of that group, more than 19.7 percent of children– or 200,000 kids– are food insecure.
Although the economy is improving, it’s not getting better for everyone. Nationally, there was a 50 percent increase in the number of households receiving nutrition assistance from the federal government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (the former food stamp program) from 2009-2013.
A shocking 1 in 7 Americans—or 46.5 million people—still rely on food banks to get the nutrition they need to stay well-fed and healthy. That affects everyone in our community.
Consider the case of Richard Fisher, who, along with his wife and five children have received services from Forgotten Harvest for the past four years. Rich fell sick in 2010 and lost his job. He was unemployed for about four months and his family felt the pain of his unemployment. He was able to find a very low paying job, but it wasn’t enough. Through his struggles, Rich found Forgotten Harvest and their food program at Liberty Church in Warren. He spent almost every Monday volunteering at the church helping to package food for about 400 families — his included.
This past September, Rich found a much better paying job where he and his family no longer needed to use Forgotten Harvest’s services. Rich and his family are grateful for the much needed help and support they received, and even though he can’t make it to Liberty Church every Monday, he and his family continue to volunteer at Forgotten Harvest.
There are many ways we can help people like the Fishers get back on their feet. If you can’t volunteer at a local food bank like Forgotten Harvest or Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan, donations can make a real difference.
One option is Bank of America’s annual Give A Meal campaign, which leverages the impact of individual donations. The program works like this: For every dollar donated to Feeding America during the campaign, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation will give an additional $2 to fight hunger – for a total of $3.
To donate to Give A Meal, visit bankofamerica.com/give. Even if you can’t donate, sharing this link via social media such as Twitter, Facebook or e-mail helps raise awareness about this issue.
If you and your family are in need of food services, please reach out to the Forgotten Harvest or the Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan.
By utilizing our connections, we can help Detroit grow by fighting hunger and putting our neighbors on a path of financial stability. Thank you for support of our community.
Matt Elliott is the Michigan president for Bank of America.