Finding food during novel coronavirus

Resources to help you and your family locate food during the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Food Bank by Mack Male on Flickr creative commons

 Michigan’s residents and families are facing unprecedented challenges due to the novel coronavirus. Many individuals are out of work or have decreased income, and are facing challenges in meeting financial obligations and obtaining resources, including food to feed their families and themselves. This article will assist you in locating food resources in your community by highlighting a number of programs and resources that can provide assistance.

In addition to what is listed below, a directory of resources that are locally available in your community is available by calling 211 or visiting this website. This hotline is maintained by the United Way and offers connections to resources on various topics from housing assistance to medical care to support groups. This includes information on food assistance like pantries, WIC, SNAP/EBT, and meal delivery programs that are available in your community. The 211 food assistance website is available here for Michigan residents.


Schools and Children

Many school districts throughout the state are providing school meals to students and their family members under the age of 18 through the Summer Food Service Program, also known as Meet Up and Eat Up. Special, more flexible regulations on providing school meals during unanticipated school closures are currently in effect. On March 13, Michigan requested and received a waiver from the USDA, which allows school meals to be provided without requiring that they are eaten in group setting, such as a cafeteria. Given that, schools are providing meals that are able to be carried away and eaten while maintaining the recommended practice of social distancing.

The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) is maintaining a searchable map of sites that are providing meals during school closures. This map will continue to be updated as new sites are approved and begin offering meal services. Sites listed on the map include locations and times where meals are being served. The map will also include sites that are being offered by non-school Summer Food Service Program sponsors, like food banks. These organizations are working to fill gaps that school meal programs are unable to fill in order to provide access to meals throughout our Michigan communities.


Families and Seniors

Many community agencies that provide food assistance programs are continuing to do so, although some are modifying their programs to follow public health recommendations to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. Many food pantries are still operational. You can find location information and pantry hours of operation through the Food Bank servicing your area or from this database of pantries. It is recommended to call ahead as some pantries have modified their operations or closed.

Additionally, a number of community and county-based agencies provide food assistance programs, including Meals on Wheels and Emergency Food. You can find these programs through this searchable map, or this directory.


Farmers Markets

As of the date of this publication, there has been no state or federal directive to close farmers markets. Some markets have made their own decision to close temporarily, while others have modified their hours, and still others remain open. Markets that are continuing to conduct business have been advised to ramp up their sanitization procedures and implement guidelines to reduce risk for both vendors and shoppers. You can find a farmers market close to you through the Michigan Farmers Market Association directory. It is recommended that you check with your market about changes in business hours, closures, or other guidelines for visiting the market prior to shopping.

For up to date information on the novel coronavirus, Covid-19, refer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site or the State of Michigan’s coronavirus site.

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