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Fund drive raises more than 49K emergency food boxes for hungry Washtenaw County residents

Rockin’ for the Hungry goes virtual for first time due to pandemic

Food Gatherers team members load a truck full of emergency food boxes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Food Gatherers team members load a truck full of emergency food boxes during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Food Gatherers)

ANN ARBOR – The annual Rockin’ for the Hungry fund drive by Food Gatherers, ann arbor’s 107one and Kroger raised 49,083 emergency food boxes for residents experiencing food insecurity in Washtenaw County.

The final number shattered the initial goal of raising enough funds for 30,000 emergency food boxes.

The 5-day fund drive went virtual for the first time this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Traditionally, hosts from ann arbor’s 107one stand outside Kroger on Maple Rd. “freezin’ for a reason” for the full five days conducting live interviews with community organizations and companies involved in the effort.

This year, the radio interviews were conducted live on 107one’s Facebook page.

“During Rockin’ for the Hungry: COVID-19 edition, we wanted to adjust our goal to reflect the needs of our community amid the pandemic,” Eileen Spring, president and CEO of Food Gatherers said in a statement. “The emergency food boxes will be distributed by our partner pantries throughout Washtenaw County and each box provides a week’s worth of meals for one person.”

Since March, Food Gatherers’ partner agencies have reported a visitor increase of 30%-300% -- nearly half of whom have never had to seek food assistance before.

National network of food banks, Feeding America, predicts that by the end of the year, the number of individuals experiencing hunger in Washtenaw County could rise by more than 37%, with food insecure children spiking to 101%.

Thousands of donors contributed to the effort, including individuals, businesses, nonprofits and students. Donations were matched dollar for dollar by the Harold and Kay Paplau Family Fund, the estate of Irene Fast and other community sponsors.

Students from Community High School raised more than $82,000 for this year’s Rockin’ -- their largest-ever gift to the fundraiser. This donation was also matched 1:1.

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About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.