The economic nosedive crippled some families financially in west Oakland County and throughout the state and nation. The subsequent rebound, however shaky the metrics may be, remains tepid, with too many to count still not feeling the improved economic situation in their pocketbooks — where it matters the most. With that in mind, it’s no wonder that area food assistance organizations continue to notice the level of need increasing, even after years of almost unimaginable spikes. And this is where lakes area residents, in the renewed spirit of generosity that typically comes with the onset of the Thanksgiving season, can help their neighbors and friends who are struggling to put food on the table.
Forgotten Harvest, the nation’s largest food rescue service, saved a record 42 million pounds of food from landfills in 2011-12, with some of that going to the nearly 500,000 people — 40 percent of whom are children — living in poverty. Open Door Outreach Center in Waterford Township needs four tons of food to distribute to needy families this holiday season, although cash is considered better since Open Door gets more buying power through Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan, a crucial source of food for local relief pantries. Hospitality House in Walled Lake had a 40-percent increase in the number of new families seeking assistance this quarter. A representative of Community Sharing in Highland Township called the current level of need “overwhelming.”
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Lakes area residents come to the help of neighbors and members of the community who need it most, time and time again, day after day, month after month, year after year. That’s part of west Oakland’s ethos; it’s ingrained in the local population. But still, it’s accepted knowledge that more people get into the giving spirit around the holiday season, so this year, it remains critical that residents of the area help out the local food banks where they can.
If that means donating money, donate money — those groups almost unanimously say that cash donations help them out more than direct food contributions. If that means donating canned or non-perishable good, that would be greatly appreciated, as well.
And still there are other ways to help, like contributing to Gleaners, as staff writer Leslie Shepard details in her special report in this edition of the Spinal Column Newsweekly.
Regardless, charitable groups are without equivocation in need of assistance. These are the people helping your neighbors, friends, co-workers, children’s classmates, the elderly in the community or those otherwise on a fixed income. They are on the front lines in the battle against hunger, helping those who need it most in a prolonged economic malaise.
They need your help in order to help others.