Flint, MI—Officials announced new federal funding for food distribution across mid-Michigan, including Flint. 

At a Monday, March 20, 2023, press conference, Congressman Dan Kildee said he helped secure $2 million to help cover the logistical and maintenance fees of food distribution by the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan and increase the food storage capacity of a Saginaw-based organization. The dollars come from the federal Community Project Funding for 2023.

“With this federal funding, the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan can lower their operating costs, keep the pantry stocked with food to be distributed to families, to seniors, to kids that are dealing with hunger,” Kildee said during the press conference. 

The Food Bank of Eastern Michigan will receive $1.5 million of the overall funding, according to Kara Ross, president and CEO of the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan. The funding, she added, will help offset costs for food distribution, including the costs for operating an additional 455 mobile pantries in mid-Michigan. The operational costs encompass things like warehousing, transportation, insurance, fuel and maintenance.

The food bank’s partner agencies will also gain greater access to fresh produce, meat and dairy for distribution, Ross added.

“Our partners will be able to stack the shelves and feed more people without incurring additional costs,” she said. 

One of the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan’s partners is the R.L. Jones Community Outreach Center in Flint. Mother Sandra Jones, executive director of the center, said it currently delivers food to anywhere between 3,400 to 3,700 people a week.

Jones noted dairy and meat products are often hard to come by, but the federal funding will help expand the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan’s food offerings to the center. 

“It’ll help the outreach center be able to have better foods for people who are cancer patients, diabetics, people who are on dialysis,” Jones told Flint Beat. “It’ll also help people who have children.” 

Over the years, food insecurity has grown due to job losses, supply shortages and the rising cost of groceries, utilities and fuel, Ross said. Further, communities saw an end to expanded benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a government food assistance program, that were available during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“They’re struggling with these reductions at a time where grocery prices still are skyrocketing and at record highs,” Ross said at the press conference. 

The new federal funding will help both the food bank and its partners enhance their support for communities in need, she explained. 

“Agencies will experience some relief and neighbors will have access to high-quality food because of the funds secured by Congressman Kildee,” Ross said. 

Nicholas is Flint Beat’s public health and education reporter. He joins the team as he graduates from Santa Clara University, Calif. Nicholas has previously reported on dementia and brain health, as...