DEARBORN HEIGHTS — A community agency’s ramped-up efforts to bring much needed food and resources to those in need shows just how economically damaging the COVID-19 pandemic has been to Metro Detroit families.
The Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency has partnered with Wayne County to fill in the gaps for county residents who are otherwise left out in the cold as they wait for further rounds of limited state and federal aid.
Since the start of the pandemic, Wayne Metro has been distributing food and other essentials to local residents in need in Highland Park, Taylor and Dearborn Heights, serving 400 to 600 people each week through its CARES Relief and Recovery Services. The distributions include groceries and personal care and protection items. Pre-COVID, the agency would distribute to 100 people or so in those communities at the maximum.
“We do distributions throughout the year for our communities, but they’re never this big, never reaching over 500 families served,” Wayne Metro Lead Organizer Brittany King told The Arab American News, “We’re doing these distributions every single Friday, so every single Friday we’re getting numbers close to 600 people. And it’s not always the same people.”
We do distributions throughout the year for our communities, but they’re never this big, never reaching over 500 families served — Brittany King, Wayne Metro
That’s 2,400 or more people a month in the agency’s targeted areas. The numbers are reflective of what’s going on nationally, with food banks nationwide having distributed an estimated 4.2 billion meals to those facing hunger in the U.S., from the beginning of March through the end of October, 2020.
Last October alone, food banks distributed 50 percent more food than they did last year at the same time, according to statistics published by the non-profit Feeding America.
Wayne Metro has recently partnered with General Motors to make food distribution less strenuous for volunteers and staff during the cold months. GM’s innovative donation consists of $40,000 worth of equipment and materials, including six lightweight, portable, three-sided 10’ by 20’ tents; a trailer; six heaters; propane tanks; folding tables and storage bins.
The new system provides for greater distribution efficiencies aimed at decreasing wait times while sheltering staff and volunteers from the area’s harsh winter weather. The tents were in action at St. Albert the Great Church in Dearborn Heights last Friday.
“GM had volunteered with us for the community at an earlier Friday,” King said. “Among us reaching out and them seeing the need, and with the weather changing, they came together and went to the drawing table to see what they could do to help us.”
The tents can be disassembled and be used in both the summer and the winter.
Residents do not have to stay in the particular cities where the drive is held to pick up food and supplies. In addition to the drive-thru, Wayne Metro also has a walk-up section at each location every Friday.
The outdoor, drive-thru, contactless distributions take place on Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at rotating sites in Metro Detroit:
- George Washington Carver Academy, Highland Park – first Friday of each month
- Wayne County Community College, Taylor – second Friday of each month
- St. Albert the Great Church in Dearborn Heights – third Friday of each month
- Location for the fourth Friday TBD
Find more information on Wayne Metro and its pandemic services at: www.waynemetro.org/cares