Food insecurity is a real problem in Detroit and the region. According to a 2014 report, in the tri-county Detroit region, food insecurity rates in 2009 were 23.8 percent for Wayne County, 15.3 percent for Oakland County and 17.7 percent for Macomb County.

Food insecurity means that people affected do not have reliable access to healthy, nutritious food due to poverty, lack of grocery options, or other reasons.

Statewide in Michigan, 46 percent of children qualify for free or reduced lunch.

To help make a dent in this, the Red Nose Fund provided Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan with a $10,990 grant to support their School Food Mobile Pantry Program.

The grant allows Gleaners to provide 32,970 meals to hungry neighbors through mobile food pantry distributions at 12 schools.

“This food assistance program is a lifeline in our community,” said Jocelyn Sexton from Detroit’s Marvin L. Winans Academy of Performing Arts. “We love the camaraderie this opportunity affords us, in that we get to service our school families in a tangible way. It has helped us build a bridge of trust with our surrounding neighborhood and our families love the variety of food.”

There’s much more going on than just the 12 schools. In total, 78 schools in five Metro Detroit counties are supported by the School Food Mobile Pantry Program which provides monthly distributions of nutritious, healthy food to students and families. The five counties served, according to Gleaners, are Livingston, Oakland, Wayne, Monroe and Macomb.

Each distribution provides between 75 to 100 families with up to 30 pounds of fresh fruit, vegetables, grains, protein and other nutritious food.

The School Food Mobile Pantry program has grown as need as grown. It launched in April of 2011 with just five sites.

Funds raised through Red Nose Day support nonprofits that work to lift children out of poverty. Red Nose Day selected Feeding America as one of its domestic partners, and Gleaners, in turn, is a member of Feeding America’s nationwide network of food banks. Red Nose Day, run by the nonprofit Comic Relief, has raised more than $1 billion total across the United States and United Kingdom over the last 25 years.

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