WATERFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich – A special delivery from across the country arrived at a food bank in Oakland County.
The key delivery was made to a Lighthouse food warehouse in Waterford Township on Thursday (Jan. 27). It comes from a church in Utah. The church realized that the food program at Lighthouse was in trouble, not only did the church send funds -- but also two dozen pallets of food.
“We had a large campaign in 2020,” said Lighthouse President and CEO Ryan Hertz. “We raised over $3 million to help provide more emergency food and shelter in our community in a safe way. What is important today is that a couple of years later, we essentially went through those dollars as of the middle of 2021.”
Just minutes before the big delivery the shelves were bare. The food program is being eviscerated by need. It stocks the pantries of nine satellite facilities operating at a $300,000 loss in just the last six months, going into emergency reserves to meet these needs.
Lighthouse runs $15 million in programs a year, but the food program went from feeding 200 families a week pre-pandemic to now -- feeding five thousand families a week.
“On the food side, we mostly rely on private support,” Hertz said. Thanks to the generous donation from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and it looks like that shipment will provide six days of food for the folks that we serve.”
Across M-59 are two sides of the same coin. The need for assistance has grown in Macomb County, as well.
“On an average year before the pandemic, we provided about two and a half million pounds of food across Macomb County every year,” said Ernest Cawvey, the Executive Director of Macomb Community Action. “Once the pandemic started, we saw an increase in about a million pounds of food, jumping from two and a half million to three and a half pounds of food that we were distributing to over 70 food pantries across Macomb county.”
But the funding picture is different, with federal dollars feeding its food funds. It also had the funds to build a massive freezer to stockpile foods.
“We anticipated some of the supply chain issues,” Cawvey said. “We adapted, we prepared, and we tried to get ahead of some of the supply chain issues.”
But the common denominator with almost every other food bank, small or large, publicly funded or privately, is the need has grown.
The need continues to grow, and the chess game of finding food, buying food, and distributing food has gotten very complicated.