Gleaners Community Food Bank: a hunger-free community in southeast Michigan

What is better than a hot meal at the end of a cold day? Or a good breakfast to start your day with energy and good vibrations? Well, maybe there is nothing better than that and sometimes all of us take that for granted.

Yosef Meystel, the owner of a number of nursing homes through Midwestern, states that, some people just don’t have the privilege of having the 3 meals required per day, or they cannot have access to healthy food. These people have to rely on charities such as Gleaners Community Food Bank to have their meals and live a more or less normal life.

Let’s take a look at this charity and what is it that they do for the community.

Gleaners Community Food Bank mission statement is to give homes and houses access to healthy, sufficient and nutritious food for people living in conditions that are not human or healthy. This is all done by using collaboration, education, innovative solutions and efficient operations.


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Gleaners Community Food Bank and their wide community network fight hunger in Southeastern Michigan.  The idea that Gleaners has is to distribute nutritional, high-quality food and by using the education, they want to reduce dependency on the emergency food system.

They have their main offices in Detroit and they have five distribution centers located in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Livingston and Monroe counties.  They give an amazing amount of food to  534 partner soup kitchens, shelters, food pantries, and many other charities or agencies in Southeastern Michigan. To get an idea of the amount of impact and work that Gleaners does, you just have to take a look at the amount of food they collect each year: almost 39 million pounds of food a year and a daily distribution of 89,000 meals;  they also provide nourishing food and education for a healthy nutrition for more than 84,000 children every year.


Gleaners has a strategic plan that contemplates the idea of reducing hunger in southeast Michigan and teach self-sufficiency to people that really need it and can use it to provide for their community.  They are convinced that the emergency food is not enough to solve the hunger problem and they decided to give a helping hand to the issue. For this strategic plan they have 3 pillars:

  1. Nourishing hope:  the idea here is to lower cost and use local farmers to provide for the community
  2. Sustaining hope: this is where they educate people on how to shop and how to be healthy when they eat.
  3. Advancing hope: here they engage everybody: agencies, volunteers, and donors.


The story comes directly from this person: Gene Gonya who lived in Ohio and had a childhood surrounded by nature. When he was only 19, he became a Brother in the Jesuit Religious Community and followed their idea of  “doing all for the greater honor and glory of God.”

In 1977, Gene went to be part of the catholic church and in April he started the idea of the Gleaners Community Food Bank. He rented a floor in a warehouse next to the Capuchin Soup Kitchen and the idea behind the food bank was to accept and solicit food, store it safely, and then take it to the agencies who are the ones in charge of distributing it. The food bank was the only one that could accept large amounts of food from Gene’s family farm, keep it and then distribute it to the agencies. This is because none of the agencies have the capacity to accept such truckloads of food.

Apart from Gleaners, who was one of the first food banks in the United States, Gene also created another food bank called Second Harvest, which is now called Feeding America.

Gene is now a very important man and has received many prizes and honors due to his job.  He appeared in the reader’s digest magazine in August 1983 and had a part in the book  They Light Up Our Life, by Will Hardy that talks about all the outstanding people in Detroit.



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Gleaners is very important for people who need food the most. They know that in the USA and abroad there are many products that are about to be disposed just because people just don’t have any idea on how to handle them or just because they don’t know how to take that surplus to the market.

Gleaners has some methods to manage big amounts of all kinds of food. The process goes something like this: Gleaners collects donations from all type of stores and supermarkets including retailers and groceries stores and even van drivers; then they collect and sort the food so it can be easily distributed; then they distribute the food to partner agencies and shelters; and finally, they nourish the community.

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