Fa Burns cooks in his family, and on Thanksgiving, he’ll serve up either a roast turkey with candy, vegetables and cornbread, or a batch of his famous seafood lasagna.
Make them both for the holidays.
“They just don’t know what it’s going to be like,” the parishioner and volunteer at Covenant Missionary Temple mused as they waited to open the Forgotten Harvest mobile food pantry, which the church operates from its parking lot every second and fourth Friday of the month.
“In two weeks, we’ll be giving out holiday boxes,” Burns said of the special food items that have been collected so everyone can enjoy a holiday meal just like their family will.
Now through December 13th, Forgotten Harvest mobile pantries will be handing out Hope for the Holidays — food boxes for people in need. Thanks to a partnership between Kroger Co. of Michigan and the Lineage Foundation for Good, Forgotten Harvest, this seasonal initiative will help nearly 12,000 households in need.
“This is our way of going a little extra for the holiday season,” said Chis Ivey, director of marketing and communications for Forgotten Harvest. “We’ve been doing different versions of the campaign for over 10 years.”
Those in need range from seniors on fixed incomes and working families trying to make ends meet to college students with no means of support. According to Forgotten Harvest, there are approximately 612,000 people in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties facing food insecurity, and about 180,000 of them are children. Year-round, Forgotten Harvest provides those in need with access to fresh fruit and nutritious food, working through a network of 220 pantry partners like Covenant Missionary Temple. However, there are some holiday meal staples that may be missed in regular food distribution.
That’s where the hope for the holidays comes in.
This time of year, Forgotten Harvest partners with generous donors to create food boxes filled with meat, potatoes, onions, apples, milk, eggs, flour stuffing, gravy, candy and all the fixings for a nice holiday meal. Each box of fresh and shelf-stable foods comes with a recipe card provided by the United Dairy Industry of Michigan (UDIM) for preparing holiday meals with the included foods.
“The holiday season embodies the spirit of inclusion and togetherness, and food is at the heart of countless cherished holiday traditions,” said Cam Barrett, Kroger Co. corporate affairs manager. from Michigan. “Through this impactful partnership with Forgotten Harvest, together we are helping to ensure that 12,000 families in Southeast Michigan have their rightful place at the table, allowing them to create their own holiday memories that will last a lifetime.”
Marcia Hazen agreed.
“Rising food prices and inflation have made 2023 a stressful year for many families in Metro Detroit,” said Hazen, program officer for the Lineage Foundation for Good. “As family budgets feel increasingly strained, Lineage Foundation for Good is proud to support Forgotten Harvest’s hope for the holidays because it not only provides families facing food insecurity with a holiday food box, but also offers a sense for peace of mind at what can be a stressful time of year.”
Making some of the deliveries this holiday season will be Floyd Robertson.
“It’s nice to be able to help our communities,” said Robertson, a truck driver for Forgotten Harvest who sees volunteers as the backbone of his mission. “Those people over there,” he said, pointing to Burns and his group. “They are the ones who make it all possible.”
Ivey pointed out that the need for volunteers is always great, as is the need for food.
“We’re really looking to get volunteers to continue our mission,” Ivey said, noting that the greatest need always comes after the holiday giving season.
Among the parishioners helping Burns was Brenda Fulton.
“We’ve been doing this for about 12 years,” Fulton said, noting that the number of people needing help seems to be on the rise again. During the pandemic, mobile food pantries recorded double and even triple the number of people they normally served.
On that day they expected between 150 and 200 cars.
“Some of these people have been here since 9 in the morning,” said Kayla Lombardo of Roseville and a volunteer at Live Rite Structured Recovery Center. “I haven’t been a very productive member of the community for a long time and this is my way of saying thank you.” I’ve been doing it since March and it feels great.”
Lombardo said some have told her it’s the only food they’re getting.
She knows this because, like many volunteers, she greets those in line with a cheerful smile and an approving nod, knowing they themselves may find themselves in line for a mobile food pantry.
“I think we’re not only serving people’s physical needs, but also their spiritual needs,” Fulton said. “I just thank God that we’re able to do this.”
Nutrition Program Resources
Forgotten Harvest will deliver its free holiday food boxes to its mobile food pantry partners through December 13th.
For a list of Forgotten Harvest mobile pantries, visit forgottenharvest.org/find-food.
Additional help finding food can be found by visiting pantrynet.org, findhelp.org or by calling a community advocate at 2-1-1 for help with food, shelter, medical assistance and more.
Covenant Missionary Temple will be giving out its holiday food boxes on November 21st from 2-4pm in the parking lot next to the church at 28491 Utica Rd., in Roseville.
Forgotten Harvest is extremely grateful to the donors and sponsors who help provide hope for the holidays. Thanks to AL Johnson & Sons, Fresh Connect Central, Hatch for Hunger, Michigan Dairy, Riveridge Produce Marketing, Second Nature Brands, Sunrise Acres Egg Farm, United Dairy Industry of Michigan, USDA and Valley Farms for their generous participation.
For information on volunteer opportunities, visit forgottenharvest.org