Feed the Fight Kalamazoo delivers its final meals

Having raised $100,000 in contributions from the Kalamazoo community and delivering nearly 10,00 meals to workers on the frontline during the pandemic, Feed the Fight Kalamazoo is delivering its last meals today, June 24, 2021.

“Feed the Fight Kalamazoo was founded to provide an avenue for community members to ‘do something’ to support our frontline healthcare workers during the pandemic — giving money, volunteering their time to deliver meals, sharing our messages, creating our posters, scheduling restaurants to order meals from, and so much more,” says Co-Founder Jodi Michaels. 

That was accomplished and now that work is done, the all-volunteer organization reports. Here are final Feed the Fight Kalamazoo numbers through the end of the week of June 21, 2021:

• 9,941 meals delivered 

• 271 distinct deliveries from individual restaurants 

• 107 local restaurants from which meals were purchased

• More than 350 individual donations

• Dozens of volunteers

• More than a thousand healthcare workers fed and supported in our community, with thousands of meals delivered

• 1 healthcare hero award from the Family Health Center

Feed the Fight Kalamazoo launched on April 9, 2020, having localized the experience of Feed the Fight DC, a neighborhood effort to patronize local restaurants and show support for healthcare workers at the outset of the COVID-19 crisis. Sally Hadden, a Co-Founder of Feed the Fight Kalamazoo originally initiated the local response.

Demargeo White, Huey D’s Chef Since Jan. 22, 2021, when Feed the Fight delivered meals to a Family Health Center (FHC) vaccination clinic at Stones Church, the group has been feeding the vaccinators — through FHC, Bronson, Kalamazoo County, and community clinics  — providing a boost to those inoculating the Kalamazoo community against the ravages of the pandemic, Michaels says.

“We are in a privileged place here in the United States, with access to vaccines and a way to jab ourselves ahead of the variants and keep case numbers on the decline,” Michaels says. She goes on to say that while in much of the world pandemic restrictions remain firmly in place and the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, knowing that another wave could still befall the community it still is time to bring the program to wrap up its work.

With vaccinations are on the rise and pandemic restrictions having been lifted statewide, the group noted its gratitude to those who helped it make its work possible.

The community stepped up to support one another during this crisis, from mutual aid groups to emergency funds for our community, the group notes. Feed the Fight was part of that effort as it “helped restaurants stay afloat, with some directly attributing orders from us to helping them over the finish line to make end-of-month payments, and others to knowing that they too were ‘doing something’ to support those on the frontlines,” Michaels says.

Treats for those giving out vaccinationsOften throughout the pandemic, frontline workers had no access to refrigeration or options to heat up meals. This was the case both at the beginning of the pandemic when those staffing drive-through testing clinics were working out in the field and in the winter and spring of 2021 when those at vaccine clinics -- including pharmacists, health care workers, volunteers, medical and nursing students from area colleges, and members of the national guard -- often worked long hours in locations that didn’t offer the means to store and heat meals. 

“So many of these healthcare heroes expressed immense gratitude for the nourishing and morale-boosting meals,” Michaels says.

As a representative of Residential Opportunities said as she prepared to pick up the first Feed the Fight Kalamazoo meal delivery for the folks at ROI’s numerous facilities throughout the county this summer, “We have many group homes where they’ve been working so hard during all of this doing extra sanitation and working long hours. They are so excited to feel appreciated by a lunch or a meal -- it really means a lot.” 

Healthcare workers pick out the treats they want that have been provided by Feed the Fight. Adam Strong-Morse, one of the Co-Founders of Feed the Fight Kalamazoo summed up the organization’s gratitude for healthcare workers and the community this way at the Family Healthcare Heroes Award ceremony last fall: “Most of all, we want to thank the people who have been providing the healthcare work in the community, the frontline responders, in the difficult, scary work of dealing with this pandemic and we wanted to reach out to help them and the community really responded and came together.

“We had a huge outpouring of support and we were able to provide our support to the people who were really on the frontlines of the fight against COVID,” he went on to say. “And that is what makes us happiest about this -— that we were able to make a difference in the community, we were able to allow the people in the community who wanted a way to help, to find a way that they could help the restaurants, they could help the community, and most of all they could help the healthcare workers and frontline people in the fight against COVID.” 

Read more articles by Kathy Jennings.

Kathy Jennings is the managing editor of Southwest Michigan's Second Wave. She is a freelance writer and editor.