While it doesn’t directly impact food bank operations in the Tri-County region as yet, the Michigan National Guard has received a request to aid Food Banks in four other communities across the state, including Ann Arbor, Comstock Park, Flint, and Pontiac. Approximately 10 Michigan National Guard members will be serving at each site.
State officials tell us support to the Food Banks is scheduled to begin today, March 30th and is expected to continue through mid-April.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says, “The aid that men and women of the Michigan National Guard will provide to Food Banks across Michigan is further proof that the Michigan National Guard is a true cornerstone of Michigan communities,” and adds, “I could not be more proud of their service, commitment, and determination, and they are making a difference in the state’s response to COVID-19.”
The food distribution sites requested Michigan National Guard personnel to assist with mobile food distribution, which serves between 300-600 Michigan families daily. Guard members will direct traffic for the drive-through distribution site and assist with packing bags of fruit and handing bags to cars. The guard members will perform their duties with personnel protective equipment to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, including gloves and hand sanitizer.
Whitmer announced the Michigan National Guard’s involvement in the state-wide response to COVID-19 on March 18th. Since then, guard members have provided logistics support to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, assembling and loading critical personal protective gear such as gowns and face shields. There are also members of the Michigan National Guard serving the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans and the D.J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans in Marquette. Their support includes temperature screening of all employees before they enter the homes, and ensuring screening protocols are being followed to protect resident veterans from the spread of COVID-19.
Maj. Gen. Paul Rogers, Adjutant General of the Michigan National Guard says, “The Michigan National Guard strives to be a provider of exceptional service,” and concludes, “As the response to COVID-19 continues, we stand ready to serve our neighbors, family, and friends in the communities in which we live and work.”
Dr. Phil Knight, Executive Director, Food Bank Council of Michigan, says, “The National Guard’s humanitarian effort is filling a gap so that our food banks can continue to provide healthy food to hungry Michiganders. While our member food banks are accustomed to working in a crisis environment, we have never witnessed anything like COVID-19 and the dramatically escalating numbers of children, families and seniors needing food.”