Michigan United Way chapters launch summer food drive

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The Michigan Association of United Ways and Kellogg Company are hosting a “Summer Stock Up” food drive in partnership with 24 United Way chapters across the state.

The organizations said last week that the effort, taking place throughout June, is intended to restock local food pantries with items to get them through the warmer months.

Every year, food pantries are fully stocked in the winter months thanks to holiday donations, but when summer comes, donations drop and pantry shelves become sparse. This can leave low-income families with limited options during the summer, Michigan Association of United Ways said.

The statewide Summer Stock Up event evolved out of the popular “Christmas in June” food drive that was hosted annually by United Way of Southwest Michigan (UWSM). In 2020, because of the pandemic, UWSM pivoted from an in-person food drop-off event to a virtual event that provided safe shopping options that allowed donors to “shop their impact” by giving online.

“I commend the United Way of Southwest Michigan and Kellogg for their leadership in expanding this important drive to create statewide impact,” said Mike Larson, president and CEO of the Michigan Association of United Ways. “We know there is significant work to do to better support the many Michigan residents struggling to make ends meet. United Ways continue to rise to the challenge and do just that.”

The success of “Christmas in June” caught the attention of Kellogg, and the company and its charitable fund reached out to help reconceptualize it as a statewide “Summer Stock Up.” As the premier sponsor, Kellogg brought 24 United Ways in Michigan on board for the event. Additional support has been provided by American Electric Power Foundation and Dash Digital Services. In-person and virtual versions of the event will be available depending on the needs and situations of each United Way.

Addressing food insecurities is tied to the work of Michigan Association United Ways’ ALICE Project, which identified that in 2019, 38% of Michigan households worked but struggled to make ends meet. Those households — whose incomes are above the federal poverty level but below the basic cost of living — are referred to as ALICE, which stands for asset limited, income constrained, employed.

During the past decade, conditions have worsened for thousands of families across Michigan, setting the stage for the dual health and economic crises of the COVID-19 pandemic. The statewide “Summer Stock Up” events are one way the United Way chapters are working to support ALICE families.

People can go to the Summer Stock Up event page to find their participating chapter and get involved.

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