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Michigan National Guard expands food bank assistance amid coronavirus crisis

Members of the National Guard prepare emergency food boxes in response to the coronavirus outbreak on Monday, March 30, 2020 at Food Bank of Eastern Michigan in Flint. (Sarahbeth Maney | MLive.com/TNS)
April 07, 2020

The Forgotten Harvest Food Bank in Royal Oak will become the fifth food bank in the state to receive hands-on help from members of the Michigan National Guard amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Support, which will be provided by approximately 10 airmen from the 127th Wing, Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township, will begin at the site Monday, April 6, according to a news release from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office.

Assistance at the Royal Oak food bank is expected to continue through the end of April.

“This is an example of how the men and women of the Michigan National Guard are helping their communities,” Whitmer said in a statement. “They are assisting Michiganders all across this state in response to COVID-19, and I am very proud of their professionalism and commitment.”

Food banks in Ann Arbor, Comstock Park, Flint, and Pontiac began receiving help from the Michigan National Guard on March 30 and will continue for two more weeks, according to Bobby Leddy, deputy press secretary for the governor’s office.

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Michigan National Guard personnel at those four locations have been helping with mobile food distribution, directing traffic at the drive-through distribution site and assisting with packing bags of fruit and handing bags to cars over the past week.

“Each of the National Guard’s missions were originally assessed to be three weeks,” Leddy told MLive. “The Royal Oak mission was activated a week later, and therefore extended a week beyond the prior four missions.

“We will continue to evaluate the needs of each community to determine whether an extension is necessary to keep people healthy and safe during this pandemic.”

In addition to helping with food distribution, other response activities include logistics support for medical equipment, medical screening operations, planning augmentation and support for construction of alternate care facilities.

“The Michigan National Guard strives to be part of the fabric of every Michigan community,” said Maj. Gen. Paul Rogers, Adjutant General of the Michigan National Guard and Director of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, in a statement.

“Members of the Michigan National Guard live in every county of this state, and we care deeply about supporting our communities as we all respond to COVID-19.”

The Michigan National Guard, according to the release, has an additional 6,600 members ready to assist at the request of Michigan’s communities.

Guard members are screened prior to conducting response activities, and perform their duties with personnel protective equipment as advised by the Michigan National Guard’s medical staff.

Michigan seniors in need of food assistance can also get free meal delivery and daily wellness checks during the coronavirus outbreak. Residents 60 and older are eligible for home-delivery or pick-up meals during the outbreak. Fill out the form here.

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© 2020 MLive.com