ANN ARBOR – The Rotary Clubs of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti have raised the equivalent of 120,000 meals for Food Gatherers as part of the 2020 Rotary Fights Child Hunger fund drive.
The clubs partner with Washtenaw County’s food rescue program each year to donate meals to children who experience food insecurity during the summer months when school’s out.
This year’s drive was increased in scope and length in response to the March school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The campaign brought together local organizations, businesses and individuals to combat a spike in child food insecurity caused by the health crisis. The Harold and Kay Peplau Family Fund provided a matching gift which helped Rotary break its record for meals raised through the annual event.
“We are grateful for the Rotary Club’s commitment during this challenging time to help our neighbors facing food insecurity,” said Eileen Spring, President and CEO of Food Gatherers, said in a statement.
“Because of the pandemic and resulting economic downturn, many more people in our community are struggling to afford food, some for the first time. By adapting the traditional food drive, the Rotary Clubs of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti provided critical support to meet an unprecedented increase in need.”
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This year, Rotarian H. Todd Kephart was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the Rotary Club of Ann Arbor -- the group’s highest honor. For the last decade, Kephart has chaired the Rotary Fights Summer Hunger Campaign and Food Gatherers said his leadership has been a critical part of the food drive’s success year after year.
Using the resources from the fund and food drive, Food Gatherers will distribute meals through its 170 partner program network. Since mid-March, its partner programs have reported a 30%-300% increase in visitors in need of food. Nearly half of those were experiencing food insecurity for the first time.
Partner programs include meal programs, food pantries and emergency grocery services that service families and individuals throughout Washtenaw County.
Do you know someone who needs food? Call 734-761-2796 or visit foodgatherers.org/needfood for a list of free resources, including home delivery.