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Michigan National Guard members pack boxes at Food Gatherers in Ann Arbor

A member of Michigan's National Guard packs boxes of nonperishable food items at Food Gatherers' warehouse on April 1, 2020.
A member of Michigan's National Guard packs boxes of nonperishable food items at Food Gatherers' warehouse on April 1, 2020. (Food Gatherers)

ANN ARBOR – Ten members of Michigan’s National Guard have been working at Food Gatherers’ warehouse since Monday filling in gaps for volunteers temporarily suspended over health concerns.

Food Gatherers Chief Development Officer Helen Starman said the service members have been busy packing boxes and deep cleaning as Michigan grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“They have been packing emergency food boxes for us and they have also been assisting with some deep cleaning of the warehouse," she said. "We want to be really good and careful about the cleaning that we do in the warehouse and for our drivers and product going out.”

According to Starman, the National Guard members packed 3,000 boxes in just three days. Each box contains 25 nonperishable items like tuna, peanut butter, canned vegetables and fruit.

“They are pretty amazing," said Starman. “Food Gatherers is truly grateful for the support and the effort of the Michigan National Guard. Their strong work ethic and their good spirits are an important component of us fulfilling our mission to alleviate hunger in our community during this really difficult time.”

She said their arrival came at the right time since Food Gatherers suspended all of its warehouse volunteer shifts to respect social distancing and the Governor’s shelter-in-place order.

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Since then, Food Gatherers’ volunteer coordinators were doing the brunt of the work, sorting produce and packing emergency boxes.

“There are only four of them and it was a lot,” said Starman. “This is a real boost for our operations and for our morale.”

The National Guard members serving in Ann Arbor are from around the state and are quarantining together during their three-week deployment to minimize potential exposure to the novel coronavirus.

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