Banking on it: For many in need of food, the GLFB offers a 'lifeline'

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As the lineup of cars suggests, the need is great for the food assistance provided by the Greater Lansing Food Bank.

Photo courtesy of GLFB

By Tom Kirvan
Legal News

For East Lansing attorney M.B. Farrell, a member of the State Bar of Michigan since 1975, the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday figures to be cast in an altogether different light this year in the wake of the pandemic.

Which is why Farrell and other supporters of the Greater Lansing Food Bank are urging area residents to open up their hearts – and their wallets – to those caught in the crosshairs of COVID-19.

“Thanksgiving is on the horizon – at least it is on the calendar,” said Farrell. “However, for too many of our neighbors in the Greater Lansing area, food scarcity is too often on their calendar and an omnipresent fact of life.

“While parts of the economy are inching toward reopening, many sectors are either lagging behind or yet to experience that reopening,” Farrell noted. “Who has been impacted? Our unemployment rate is hovering between 8 to 9 percent. Pretty substantial. Hundreds and thousands are either out-of-work or have been relegated to part-time employment when they otherwise have relied on full-time employment to cover food costs – and mortgage, rent, insurance, car and prescription payments.

“Many of those who have lost their jobs or who have had their hours or shifts reduced have been hourly workers,” Farrell said. “More often than not, they are single parents with children at home. They are placed in the unenviable position of having to prioritize whether to put food on the table, maintain a roof over their head, purchase necessary prescriptions and/or make an insurance or car payment in order to get to work.”

Thousands of area residents, “the clerks, waitresses, janitors and cooks,” Farrell indicated, do not have the option or “the luxury of logging in for a Zoom session,” in order to earn a paycheck.

“Showing up, reporting for work and ‘punching in are bedrocks of their employment,” he said. “Consequently, when the ‘under-employment rate’ is combined with the unemployment rate, the figure is well into double digits. Clearly, not good.”

As a consequence, “for these neighbors, accessing the food pantries of the Greater Lansing Food Bank is a lifeline,” according to Farrell.

The GLFB traces its roots to 1981, another difficult economic year across Michigan due to widespread layoffs caused by a downturn in sales for the Big Three automakers. At that time, a handful of community leaders, including attorney Camille Abood, founded the Greater Lansing Food Alliance that over the years would become the GLFB of today.

“Its goal was, and is, to provide food for area residents who for whatever reason – e.g., unemployment – need food assistance for their family,” said Farrell, who served on the Food Bank’s Board of Directors during a number of its early years.

“The Food Bank has partnered with a range of area grocers and other parties to obtain food for distribution to those in need,” Farrell said.

“The community has responded with generosity. However, as one might suspect, the need continues – both by residents who need food assistance and by the Food Bank for funds to continue to provide that food. Attorneys in the area have been supportive of the Food Bank’s efforts,” Farrell noted, undoubtedly due in part to the example set by the late Abood during the formative years of the nonprofit agency.

In addition to Ingham County, the GLFB now serves six neighboring counties, providing food for distribution through local pantries. The other counties include Eaton (Grand Ledge and Charlotte), Clinton (St. Johns and DeWitt), Shiawassee (Owosso), Clare (Clare), Isabella (Mt. Pleasant), and Gratiot (Alma).

For area residents who would like to donate to GLFB, visit GreaterLansingFoodBank.org or send a check to Greater Lansing Food Bank, P.O Box 16224, Lansing, MI 48901.

“Please make room in your budget for a contribution in order to lend a hand and help the Food Bank get that needed food assistance to our neighbors,” said Farrell.



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