7 UpFront: Gleaners tries to feed the need during the COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 6:24 PM, Dec 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-09 09:15:02-05

(WXYZ) — The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many people to experience food insecurity, especially during the present second wave.

Gleaners Community Food Bank is trying to help those they can, while also dealing with the pandemic's impact themselves.

We're being joined by Gleaners President and CEO Gerry Brisson to talk about it during tonight's 7 UpFront segment.

You can see the full interview in the video player above.

"I can tell you I've never seen anything like this," Brisson says. "We've seen economic downturns and we've seen, obviously, people with health concerns, but this is, absolutely, the most disruptive event I've ever seen in this work. What that means for people who are living in or near poverty, it means all the things they are already doing to manage a difficult day and a difficult life are that much harder."

"So many of the people that we serve are affected by COVID at a much higher rate than the average person in the population," he says. "So we know that the three biggest things that drive people to need emergency food are unemployment, the loss of a breadwinner from the home, or a health concern. Those are the three biggest, and all of them are running rampant through the pandemic. Here's what that means for us, just our emergency mobiles alone, just some 60 some extra mobiles a week, just those are serving an additional 17-18,000 households more than we've ever done. That's every two weeks."

"For us, 3 1/2 million pounds of food is what we usually do, now it's 7 million pounds of food every month," Brisson says.

"For a lot of people, it's the first time they've ever needed help and they don't know what to do," he says. "So here's what you do, call 211. It is the United Way helpline. They have an active list of, not just food help, but other help that you might need, and a way to get signed up for things, and they have people on the phone who can help walk you though what you have to do."

"You can also go to Gleaners' website if you're looking for food," Brisson says. "That's You go to our website and there's an interactive map that shows every place there's a food distribution going on in the next few weeks. So you can just drop in and get food. If you find a place that's a mobile distribution, look at the time they're distributing, show up and we will make sure you get food."

"The best thing is to give what you can," he says about how we can help. "Again, our website is It's really simple to donate, every dollar is worth 3 meals to a hungry neighbor."