For weeks before the drive, Hazon Detroit and volunteers rescued food for Thanksgiving that would have otherwise gone to waste.
A recent food drive helped make sure that people in need throughout communities in northern Oakland County weren’t forgotten over Thanksgiving.
On Nov. 23, the Monday before the holiday, Hazon Detroit distributed approximately 4,000 meals to more than 1,000 families in need in Springfield, Rose, Highland and Holly townships in northwestern Oakland County. The Jewish organization focuses on sustainability and awareness but has pivoted its mission throughout COVID-19 to also include food rescue. Since the summer, they have rescued and redistributed more than 160 tons of food.
For weeks before the drive, Hazon Detroit and volunteers rescued food for Thanksgiving that would have otherwise gone to waste. They partnered with numerous businesses and organizations around the Metro Detroit area, including Shir Shalom, Metro Food Rescue, Empire Packing, Temple Emanu-El and more to collect, store and identify which shelters and communities were in need of food.
“It’s important for us to recognize that Detroit is in need and Flint is in need, but these cities and towns are also in need,” Hazon Detroit executive director Wren Hack explains. While the Jewish community is sparser in northern Oakland County, she says that looking past religious barriers is essential to the organization’s mission. Meals were provided to any families in need despite their background.
“Hunger is hunger regardless of your race or ethnicity,” Hack says, and that remembering the communities on the outskirts of Oakland County is essential around the holiday season, especially this year as many people face financial setbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The drive, which was distributed with the help of the Springfield Fire Department, benefited everyone from seniors, to church groups, to families who have lost their jobs because of the crisis.
While the goal was to distribute traditional turkeys, Hack says that the turkey supplier she originally planned to partner with wasn’t available, so the organization chose to distribute chicken instead that was provided by Empire Packing. They also passed out canned goods, squash, potatoes, watermelon and 1,000 boxes of stuffing, the latter of which was supplied by Shir Shalom. To move all of the food, Hazon Detroit worked with Metro Food Rescue and Star Trax, who donated a truck to the mission.
“It was a real community effort,” Hack says.
She hopes that the mission can drive awareness for hunger in northern Oakland County. “People are just as much in need up there as they are everywhere else,” Hack explains. “They don’t have a lot of resources.” Churches and pantries rely on organizations like Hazon Detroit to bring in food, she says, so the amount of support available in these communities relies heavily on donors and food rescue missions.
It was also a heartwarming change for Springfield Fire Department to help ensure the citizens of their community could enjoy a nutritious Thanksgiving dinner. “The chief said to me that so often they show up when families are in real problems,” Hack recalls. “It was nice for them to be able to be a part of something that was so positive.”
In the coming weeks, Hazon Detroit will continue to collect, rescue and distribute food to those in need. “We’re just going to keep using what we’re given,” Hack says, “because we will not turn our backs on our neighbors.”