Ypsi's Hope Clinic launches campaign to stock food pantry during summer slump

Donations to food pantries tend to dip in the summer, and that's just one reason that Ypsilanti's Hope Clinic has launched its Summer Against Hunger campaign this year.

Through the campaign, Hope Clinic staff hope to fortify their pantry by asking a different church or community organization to cover a week of donations each week this summer.

"We get a ton of donations at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and because we're a faith-based organization, around Easter as well. But in the summer, it drops off," says Hope Clinic Food and Basic Needs Program Manager Emmeline Weinert. "People are on vacation, and community groups and churches aren't mobilizing around this as much. But it's still really critical."

Weinert says clinic staff are seeing more people using their food resources due to other factors like school lunch programs ending for the summer, pandemic emergency food assistance ending, and inflation. All those factors are driving new community members to seek resources like Hope's food pantry and hot meal programs. 

"We're seeing a lot of new faces showing up at our meal program," Weinert says of the program, which provides hot meals six nights a week. "Six months ago, we'd have about 30 to 35 people a night, and now we're averaging 50."

Weinert hopes the Summer Against Hunger campaign will make sure donations are "really consistent" throughout the season while also providing variety to shoppers. She says the clinic's partnership with the nonprofit Food Gatherers is "fantastic," but that tends to mean the pantry is stocked with the same sorts of foods all the time. Community food drives are a chance to add different foods, including low-salt or gluten-free options for shoppers with special dietary needs.

"We get that same creamy peanut butter from Food Gatherers, but some may want crunchy, or they might want almond butter," Weinert says. "We want to care for our neighbors with dignity by offering food that meets their dietary needs and brings delight into their lives."

Weinert says shopping for this food drive is as easy as getting extras of items you're already buying for your own family. 

"We encourage you to pick out things you buy for your family and just buy an extra," she says. "If your favorite cereal is Lucky Charms or Honey Nut Cheerios, get an extra box for a neighbor in need."

Hope's instructions for hosting a successful food drive are here. Organizations that would like to participate in the Summer Against Hunger campaign can sign up here or email Andrew Mast at amast@thehopeclinic.org with questions.

Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township and the project manager of On the Ground Ypsilanti. She joined Concentrate as a news writer in early 2017 and is an occasional contributor to other Issue Media Group publications. You may reach her at sarahrigg1@gmail.com.

Photo courtesy of Hope Clinic.