According to the USDA, more than 20 million children rely on free or reduced-price school lunches. Gleaners Food Bank is working to bring down the amount of Michigan children in this number.

Wednesday, Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan kicked-off it’s 2016 Hunger Free Summer campaign at its Detroit distribution center. The campaign is one of the food bank’s efforts to ensure that no child goes without food this summer.

Gleaners volunteers at the Huger Free Summer 2016 kick-off

Gleaners volunteers at the Huger Free Summer 2016 kick-off

Hunger Free Summer is tackling what many say is a big problem in Southeast Michigan. According to a 2016 report from Kids Count in Michigan, 46 percent of Michigan students are eligible for reduced-price or free meals in school. The report also states that 42 percent of the Michigan children that receive reduce-price or free school lunches live in Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland or Wayne County.

That’s 300,000 southeast Michigan children that live between 130 and 185 percent poverty (qualifications for eligibility).

When schools close for the summer many of these students lose guaranteed meals. Gleaners hopes to provide stability for these students by distributing eight semi-truckloads full of food to its school and community programs every week over a span of 12 weeks.

Gleaners programs supported by Hunger Free Summer include its School-Based Mobile Pantry, Summer Lunch program and the new Michigan Food Bank Access to Nutrition program. Each of these programs reaches thousands of high-need children and their families every month.

Volunteers rose early to help pack food and learn from the President of Gleaers, Gerry Brisson, about the importance of Hunger Free Summer.

“The meals we raise through Hunger Free Summer offer immediate and much-needed relief and stability to those families, so their children can return to school healthy and ready to learn. I’m grateful to Citizens and all of our match partners for making this possible,” Brisson said.

The Citizens bank and Ford Motor Company are partners in the campaign. Both companies will match every dollar donated to the campaign. Six meals for hungry Michigan children will be provided per dollar matched by the two.

Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief charity, and the Food Bank Council of Michigan, collects food and money for Michigan food banks, are also partners in the campaign.

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