Food Gatherers launches improved tool to help people find free food in Washtenaw County

Food Gatherers has launched a new website with an updated "Find Food" tool that will make it easier for those facing food insecurity to find local food pantries.

The updated tool has a new user interface with map, list, and calendar view layout options, so users have a variety of ways to locate open food pantries near them. The tool also has improved search and filter options that make it easier for people to find pantries that offer delivery, SNAP application assistance, and more. Markell Miller, Food Gatherers' director of community food programs, says the organization's website update was delayed by COVID-19.

"The pandemic really brought to light how important it is for people to quickly be able to find information where they can get free groceries," she says. "It just made it even more urgent and more important for us to do this well.”

Many Washtenaw County residents have faced food insecurity as a result of the pandemic, and are unfamiliar with the process of navigating food pantries. Food Gatherers' efforts aim to make that task more efficient and accessible for those in need. To help those who lack internet access to visit Food Gatherers’ website, Miller encourages people to spread the word on the many free food opportunities in Washtenaw County.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve been trying to promote word-of-mouth outreach because we know that sometimes that is the most effective way for people to find out about things that work for them, or may work for a neighbor or family member,” says Miller. 

To access the "Find Food" tool, information on local food pantries, and volunteer opportunities with Food Gatherers, visit the organization's website or call (734) 761-2796. To find volunteer information for a local food pantry, visit the United Way for Southeastern Michigan’s website. Those who cannot or prefer not to volunteer in person may sign up to help with Food Gatherers’ advocacy work

For more Concentrate coverage of our community's response to the COVID-19 crisis, click here.

Maria Patton is a lifelong Ypsilanti resident. She is currently a student at the University of Michigan, working towards a bachelor’s degree in communications and media. You can find more of her work in The Michigan Daily, where she is a columnist for the Michigan in Color section. She can be reached at pattonma@umich.edu.

Photo courtesy of Food Gatherers.
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