The USDA reported 41 million Americans to be food insecure in 2016. Lack of access to enough food exists in every county in America, but Washtenaw County’s residents struggle with hunger at a rate higher than the national average. Currently, a staggering one in seven people struggle with food insecurity or hunger (source: Map The Food Gap).
United Way of Washtenaw County understands that meeting basic human needs like food security is essential to building a vibrant and healthy community, and invested $500,000 in hunger relief and nutrition programs last year. Hunger is alleviated by directly supporting Washtenaw County's food banks and food rescue organizations.
One partner, Food Gatherers, distributes over 6 million pounds of food yearly through an extensive network of food pantries and congregate meal partners. At least 50% of the food distributed is protein, fruits, and vegetables, giving over 10,079 members of our community access to nutritious meals through these pantries.
Maggie’s Marketplace is a Food Gatherers partner-pantry located in the Ypsilanti Health Center. The market, named for Dr. Maggie Riley, assistant professor and medical director of the Ypsilanti Health Center, provides healthy food and dietician created recipes to medical patients. “This is something that we have to address,” Dr. Riley said. “It is really hard for a patient to focus on improving their blood pressure when they don’t have enough to eat or enough to feed their children. If we are truly going to influence a person’s health and well-being, we have to meet their needs more broadly.” (source: Ypsilanti Health Center Opens Healthy Food Pantry)
Bridget Healy, United Way of Washtenaw County’s Director of Community Impact notes the disparity in Washtenaw County as something that deserves attention: “In the same county ranked #1 in Michigan for health factors and home to the most educated city in America, one in seven residents struggles with food security and does not reliably have enough money to put food on the table. Access to safe and nutritious food is a building block for a good quality of life. We are committed to increasing food security for our neighbors by investing in organizations like Food Gatherers.”
To help increase access to nutritious foods in our community, please visit the uwwashtenaw.org and donate to put your dollars to work.