10 Ways to Volunteer with Local Food Assistance Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Whether you’re practicing social distancing at home or taking sanitary precautions among others, there are various ways to support the crisis
food assistance
Food assistance services photograph courtesy of Gleaners Community Food Bank

The coronavirus disease pandemic has presented a number of hardships that none of us could have foreseen. The COVID-19 toll in Michigan is on the rise. Local shops have closed, leaving hourly employees out of work. Grocers and markets are facing a shortage of basic necessities while people stock up on food and cleaning supplies. And schools have shuttered across the state leaving parents who are dependent on free school lunches to figure out ways to feed their children — thankfully, Detroit-area school districts are providing relief. Food assistance nonprofit organizations are doing their part to support individuals in need, too and could use your help in their efforts. Due to lean numbers of volunteers as a result of the government’s encouragement for social distancing, these organizations require support now more than ever. Here’s how you can get involved.

Gleaners Community Food Bank

Gleaners fulfills its mission to fight hunger by distributing an average of 96,000 meals every day to those in need of healthy food. During this time, they are working diligently to continue supporting the community. The food bank accepts donations from grocers, retailers, local gardens, food drives, and more while volunteers and staff collect for distribution. Amid the COVID-19 crisis, financial contributions are needed as the organization is limiting its number of volunteers. Gleaners warehouses will continue operations with necessary precautions such as social distancing and heightened sanitation protocols. Gleaners Community Food Bank, 2131 Beaufait St., Detroit; 866-453-2637; gcfb.org

All Saints Soup Kitchen and Food Pantry

This volunteer-based ministry is open two days each week offering various food items. All Saints will remain open despite the coronavirus outbreak, however, will close their dining area. Instead of offering seated meals, the organization will continue to serve clients by preparing meals for pick-up to limit personal contact. All Saints is also offering pre-made boxes of food from the pantry, available for self-selection by clients. The soup kitchen includes a hot meal, typically comprising a meat entrée, bread, fruits, beverages, and more three days each week. Volunteers and donations are always appreciated. All Saints Soup Kitchen and Food Pantry, 15945 Canal Road, Clinton Township; 855-882-2736; ccsem.org

Crossroads of Michigan

Crossroads offers a variety of services for those in need including a soup kitchen, social services, and parenting support programs. Meals are provided each Sunday from noon to 3 p.m. in a clean, safe environment thanks to a team of dedicated volunteers. Those interested in supporting the cause at Crossroads are able to schedule recurring financial contributions or one-time donations via the organization site. Volunteers for preparing and serving meals, answering phones, or stocking shelves are welcome. Crossroads of Michigan, 2424 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit; 313-831-2787; crossroadsofmichigan.org

Forgotten Harvest

Despite the coronavirus, this organization’s trucks are still delivering food to those in need. As Forgotten Harvest prepares for an increase in food deliveries over the next several weeks, the organization is especially seeking financial support. Most programs are still in effect and volunteers and donations are appreciated. Forgotten Harvest, 21800 Greenfield Road, Oak Park; 248-967-1500; forgottenharvest.org

Capuchin Soup Kitchen

Taking precautionary measures effective March 18, the Capuchin Soup Kitchen’s Conner and Meldrum meal sites will replace all dine-in services with carry-out offerings. The Center’s Shopper’s Choice pantry, which typically allows clients to peruse through aisles of frozen foods, produce, and pastries, will instead provide pre-packed containers filled with foodstuff for clients to take home. There are various ways to give through donations during this time of need. Capuchin Soup Kitchen, 1820 Mt. Elliott St., Detroit; 313-579-2100; cskdetroit.org

Open Hands Food Pantry and Garden

At Open Hands, volunteers are needed to help shop, bag, carry, and stock goods for clients in need. The food pantry and garden is also accepting monetary donations, which can be submitted electronically via PayPal, Amazon Smile, and Kroger Community Rewards. Open Hands accepts food donations as well, however, during this time, cash donations are preferred to help staffers purchase food in bulk. In the interest of clients’ safety, food will be distributed by curbside service to limit personal contact. Open Hands Food Pantry and Garden, 26998 Woodward Ave., Royal Oak; 248-546-1255; openhandspantry.org

Neighborhood House

Dependent on community donations, Neighborhood House makes it easy for locals to support their specific need through the company wish list. The food bank outlines their process for making food available to all, and also offer a food delivery service weekly to assist those without access to transportation. Various volunteer opportunities within the food pantry remain available to assist clients with their food orders. During this time, recipients will place a food order at the drive-through and the groceries will be brought to their vehicle. Neighborhood House, 1720 South Livernois Road, Rochester Hills; 248-651-5836; ranh.org

St. Christine Christian Services

This organization’s soup kitchen and food pantry are available twice a week on Tuesdays and Saturdays serving nutritious meals and supplying weekly supplemental grocery bags. You can help this food assistance service by donating funds, food, or time to help keep their organization up and running. St. Christine Christian Services, 15317 Dacosta St., Detroit; 313-535-7272; sccsdetroit.org

Brightmoor Connection Food Pantry

Organizing fundraisers, community-building events, and in-depth training sessions for volunteers, Brightmoor Connection Food Pantry needs donations and volunteers more than ever. Offering a client-choice model, this gives individuals a shopper-friendly atmosphere without the stigma associated with some food pantry experiences. Brightmoor Connection Food Pantry, 16621 Lahser Road, Detroit; 313-740-7688; brightmoorconnection.org

Nourishing Gardens

Nourishing Gardens provides emergency food assistance to low-income families with the help of volunteers in a tight-knit atmosphere. Relying only on individual support from locals, businesses, and organizations, donations can be made online or through the mail to help keep the organization operating. Volunteer opportunities including packing food boxes, sorting food, stocking shelves, and cleaning the facility are available. Nourishing Gardens, 24831 Sumpter Road, Belleville; 734-713-7715; nourishinggardens.org