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Food Gatherers announces record-breaking year of food distribution in Washtenaw County

Pandemic caused food insecurity to skyrocket

Food Gatherers staff unload food from a truck.
Food Gatherers staff unload food from a truck. (Food Gatherers)

ANN ARBOR – Food Gatherers announced this week that it distributed a record-breaking amount of food to community members in need during the 2020-2021 fiscal year.

In total, Washtenaw County’s food rescue organization distributed more than 9 million pounds of food, shattering its previous year’s record of 7.8 million pounds of food. This year’s amount is equivalent to 7.5 million meals.

Soon after the coronavirus pandemic hit Michigan in March 2020, Food Gatherers said its partner agencies reported a 30-300% rise in visitors. Nearly half of those visitors had never had to seek out emergency food before.

“We have never seen anything like it, there was a drastic increase in people needing help, and at the same time, the pandemic forced us to completely rethink every aspect of our service model,” Food Gatherers President and CEO Eileen Spring said in a statement in October 2020.

According to Food Gatherers, there are currently 42,450 food insecure people in Washtenaw County, and 6,090 children in the county live in food-insecure households.

Spring said she is grateful the organization’s team and supporters have been able to fulfill its mission of alleviating hunger during a global pandemic.

“We are so grateful to our community partners and our team at Food Gatherers for adapting and persevering through the many challenges we all faced during the pandemic,” Spring said in a statement.

“We are hoping that the increased awareness of food insecurity leads to a greater understanding of the importance of federal nutrition programs and anti-poverty programs. We invite you to learn more on our website, www.foodgatherers.org/advocate.”

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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.