Flint, MI—Every Thursday outside the Sylvester Broome Center, Flint residents line up in their cars to receive a box filled with locally sourced vegetables, meat and dairy products.

The Food Box Drive is hosted by the Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village, an organization that offers free educational programming to youth ages 5-17. They partnered with Flint Fresh Food Hub to give away 50 “veggie boxes” on a first-come-first-serve basis each week.

“We start serving at 4:00 but they line up at 2:30,” Linnell Jones-McKenney, program director and National Basketball Hall of Famer, said.

In addition to the veggie box, residents also get meat, fresh eggs and other dairy items. “These are basics that we want to give our community on a consistent basis…It equals about two meals per person” Jones-McKenney said.

Jones-McKenney has worked for SBEV for three years and said their mission is not limited to Flint youth. “We don’t only offer services to the young people and community as far as [educational, tutoring and mentoring programs]. When we first opened up, we opened as a water distribution site during the water crisis. After that, we started up a youth program and became a youth hub.”

Now, the focus is on nutrition, she said. “Eating healthy is important to eliminate lead. It’s important for the young people to be able to think on a higher level.”

Due to COVID-19, SBEV moved the Food Box Drive from inside the building to the parking lot. “We didn’t want to stop because we know it’s important to the community,” Jones-McKenny said.

Ian Agee, an AmeriCorps Member assigned to SBEV, said he knows the food drive makes an impact. “I’m from Flint, I’ve been here my whole life…[The Food Box Drive] has had a good turnout. People show up regularly.”

For updates and information on upcoming Food Box Drives, follow SBEV’s Instagram.

Carmen Nesbitt is a journalist with diverse experience in news reporting and feature writing. She wrote for Hour Detroit and SEEN Magazine before joining the Flint Beat news team as an education and public...