Macomb food program seeks to expand mobile effort – Macomb Daily

An ever-increasing increase in demand driven by inflation and the pandemic has prompted the Macomb Food Program to expand a key community partnership and its mobile food offerings.

“It’s not just about canned goods and canned cereals. These include fresh produce and vegetables, frozen meat and dairy,” said Ernest Cawvey, Macomb’s Community Outreach Manager.

The Macomb Food Program is part of Macomb Community Action, 21885 Dunham Road, Suite 10 in Clinton Township. The program provides immediate relief to those in need of food through a network of more than 70 pantries and hunger relief organizations. Cawvey said volunteers are essential to pantry operations.

“It takes tremendous effort to run 70 pantries,” Cawvey said.

Food is provided free of charge to ensure the pantry shelves are stocked and run as a non-profit organization. Customers are allowed to select food for their family, rather than being given a box of items, and appointments are not required. However, he said pantries operate on their own days and times, which can vary. A map of these locations with more information can be found at gis.macombgov.org/go/food.

“One of the USDA requirements is that all that’s required is a signature,” Cawvey said, adding that’s the case for all participating pantry sites.

The program has a large food warehouse at a location in Clinton Township that operates as a central food bank for the county, with assistance from the United States Department of Agriculture and partners such as the Gleaners Community Food Bank. During the pandemic, the capacity of refrigerators and freezers has been increased.

“Before the pandemic, capacity was needed, but we have seen the demand for food triple since the pandemic. Here we are three years later, and there is double the demand for food,” Cawvey said.

Cawvey added that use of the program’s mobile pantry has steadily increased due to the pandemic and rising inflation.

“In addition to the pantry network, we also have mobile food distribution, a fresh mobile food truck that we developed in partnership with Ford years ago,” Cawvey said.

He described the truck as having a wing like a mobile farmer’s market. The mobile food truck became of key importance during the pandemic, Cawvey said, as it was a way to reach more local residents in need in the community.

“Typically, we go to senior centers, we go to low-income high-rise buildings, we do other community outreach at other community events,” Cawvey said.

A partnership was formed with MyCare Health Center about a year ago to provide greater community access by bringing the mobile food truck to the company’s clinics in Mount Clemens and Center Line. The Mount Clemens MyCare Health Center location has been particularly busy, with hundreds of attendees per month, Cawvey said.

“We are in the process of expanding our offerings at MyCare,” Cawvey said, adding that there have been recent discussions about increasing the number of release dates due to demand.

“Previously it was traditionally Center Line one month and Mount Clemens the following month at MyCare locations. At Mount Clemens, we see hundreds of them every time we go, so we’re looking to have it every month at Mount Clemens in addition to every two months at Center Line,” Cawvey said.

The Macomb Food Program Mobile Food Program has an upcoming availability date of Nov. 22 from 10 a.m. to noon at the MyCare Health Center at 18 Market St. in Mount Clemens. At MyCare Health Center located at 6900 E. 10 Mile Road at Center Line, the next available date is December 13 from 10 a.m. to noon. Food is offered on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Macomb Food Program is interested in working with food pantry partners to expand the types of food delivery services to those who are housebound. Cawvey said the program received a $100,000 Federal Reach and Resilience Grant this year, which is one-time funding, to help with this endeavor.

Those interested in volunteer opportunities with the Macomb Food Program at food distributions, the food warehouse, or pantries can contact [email protected] Donations are accepted by check to 21885 Dunham Road, Suite 10, Clinton Township MI 48036, with an indication that it is from the Macomb Food Program or a designated food pantry in the program network.

Ryan H. Bowman