A new report from the Greater Lansing Food Bank shows more people in our communities are poor and hungry. They're young, they're old, and some have even served our country.
On Friday, the organization kicked off its annual fundraising campaign in a celebratory mood, to fight a rather sobering problem.
Hundreds of East Lansing students gathered stacks and stacks of food. Most have enough to eat, and are anxious to share with those who don't. Joe Wald, Executive Director of the Greater Lansing Food Bank, told an assembly of students, "You're definitely learning how important it is to give back."
It’s the 3rd year the food bank kicked off its annual fundraising campaign at East Lansing's McDonald Middle School. The event follows a real life lesson, where success is measured in cans and boxes. Danny Kapolowitz, an 8th grade student, helped organize the effort. "When they realized that there was an opportunity to do a food drive, everyone was totally into it. You know, people brought in bags of bags of food and I think that it's a really good sign that as a community as a group of people individuals and together we can work together to actually make a big change."
Wald says every donation counts, at a time when the need keeps growing. “Hunger is not an issue that a food bank can fix. There are issues in society that we want to be an active player but unfortunately if people don't have jobs, if they can't put food on their table."
Joan Jackson Johnson, Director of Human Relations for the City of Lansing says people in need are becoming more desperate for help. "With the anticipated cuts in food stamps, people are just hitting the panic button. They're not sure what they're going to do and how they're going to make ends meet so the work of the Greater Lansing Food Bank is so important."
Dozens of people show up every day at the Our Savior Lutheran Food Pantry in Lansing. Each family that qualifies gets a month worth of food they must stretch for a month. Volunteers say the need is great. They worry cuts to the food stamp program will make it even harder to meet that need. Sharon Miller said, “It really bothers me. Sometimes I have a hard time going to sleep. Especially when little kids come in and look at you and you know they're hungry.” Wald says, "We are seeing more and more people who just a year or two ago were our donors are now the people who are getting food. And as I shared with the students, many of them have shared with me, it's a lot more fun giving than it is receiving."