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Local groups step up to combat food insecurity during pandemic and beyond

Posted at 2:09 PM, Aug 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-01 14:09:59-04

WARREN, Mich (WXYZ-TV) — A school district in Warren is hitting the streets to make sure its students have free and healthy meals throughout the summer.

It's hard to miss the "Fitz Food Truck" with its characteristic blue color and bright designs on the side.

The food truck's debut was delayed due to the pandemic, but it eventually hit the street this summer and feeds between 200 and 250 kids per month according to food service director for Fitzgerald Public Schools, Holly Clay.

Anyone 18 and under can stop by and get a meal, no questions asked.

“We came up with the idea of wanting to have a creative and fun way of getting meals to the kids in our district who maybe weren’t able weren’t able to come up to our stationary sites at schools," Clay told Action News.

Clay said food trucks for schools is a popular concept in certain southern states, and she wanted to see if it could work here too.

The Fitz Food Truck operates weekdays at a variety of locations in Warren, one of the most popular being Austin Dannis park during lunchtime. Click here for the latest route.

New menus are released weekly and usually published on the truck's Facebook page.

“We are a completely CEP district which means that all of our students eat breakfast and lunch completely for free," Clay said.

The pandemic has made food insecurity for both kids and adults a growing concern around the country; to help address this for children, the USDA extended certain waivers for free school meals through June of 2022.

For adults struggling to find nutritious meals, Metro Food Rescue is filling an important gap in and around Detroit.

“I was just seeing all this food waste through events and catering and at the same time knew there were so many people who needed food, and it just stuck with me," said Chad Techner, executive director of Metro Food Rescue.

The organization started in March of last year with the idea of picking up extra food from restaurants, farms, pantries, or catering events that might be tossed and connecting it with groups or people who need it most.

In the last four months alone Techner and his team have rescued enough food to provided 400,000 meals to hungry metro Detroiters. They work with many groups around the area to make this happen, including Detroit Community Fridge Project which Wayne State students started; they've got three fridges around the Detroit area that are open to anyone looking for something fresh and healthy to eat.

“It’s basically a standalone fridge outside of a business with a shelf for non-perishables," he said.

As for the Fitz Food Truck, Clay said participation is growing as more and more people recognize the hard-to-miss blue cafeteria on wheels.

“They know our route, so they will come to wherever we’re at, and it’s amazing to see this response," Clay told Action News.

Click here for more information on Metro Food Rescue.