“This is not just canned goods and boxed cereal. This is fresh produce and vegetables, frozen meat and dairy,” Macomb Community Action Director Ernest Cawvey said.
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 over 70 pantries and hunger relief organizations. Cawvey said that volunteers are crucial to pantry operations.
“It requires tremendous effort to operate 70 pantries,” Cawvey said.
Food is supplied at no cost to ensure pantry shelves are stocked and operate as a nonprofits. Clients are permitted to choose foods for their families, rather than receiving a box of items, and appointments are not necessary. However, he said pantries operate on their own individual days and hours, which may vary. A map of those locations with more information can be found at gis.macombgov.org/go/food.
“One of the requirements from the USDA is that all that is required is a signature,” Cawvey said, adding this is the case with any of the participating pantry sites.
The program has a large food warehouse at a Clinton Township location that operates as a central food bank for the county, with assistance coming from the US Department of Agriculture and partners such as Gleaners Community Food Bank. During the pandemic refrigerator and freezer capacity was expanded.
“Prior to the pandemic the capacity was needed, however we have seen triple the demand for food since the pandemic. Here we are three years later, and there is double the demand for food,” Cawvey said.
Cawvey added usage of the program’s mobile pantry has been growing steadily due to the pandemic and inflation growth.
“In addition to the pantry network, we also have a mobile food distribution, a fresh mobile food truck which we had 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 out in the community.
“In general we go to senior centers, we go to low-income, high-rise buildings, we do other community outreaches at other community events,” Cawvey said.
The 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 clinic locations in Mount Clemens and Center Line. The Mount Clemens MyCare Health Center location has been particularly busy, with hundreds attending per month Cawvey said.
“We are actually in the process of expanding our offerings at MyCare,” Cawvey said, adding there has been recent discussion of increasing the number of distribution dates due to demand.
“It used to be traditionally Center Line one month and Mount Clemens the next at MyCare locations. In Mount Clemens we see hundreds every time we go, so we are looking to have it monthly in Mount Clemens in addition to every other month in Center Line,” Cawvey said.
The Macomb Food Program’s mobile food program has an upcoming availability date of Nov. 22 from 10 am to noon at the MyCare Health Center location of 18 Market St. in Mount Clemens. At the MyCare Health Center location at 6900 E. 10 Mile Road in Center Line, the next available date is Dec. 13 from 10 am to noon. Food is offered on a first come, first served basis.
The Macomb Food Program is interested in working with pantry partners to expand food delivery types of services to those that are homebound. Cawvey said that the program received a $100,000 federal Reach and Resiliency grant this year, which is one time funding, to assist in this endeavor.
Those interested in volunteer opportunities with Macomb Food Program at food distributions, the food warehouse or pantries can contact FoodProgram@macombgov.org. Donations are accepted via check at 21885 Dunham Road, Suite 10, Clinton Township MI 48036, with a notation that it is for the Macomb Food Program or a designated pantry in the program network.