Soldiers from the 1433rd and 1434th Engineer Companies, Michigan Army National Guard, package more than 1,000 meal boxes a day at Gleaners Community Food Bank in Pontiac in response to COVID-19. Guard members are serving at six food distribution sites across the state. (Photo by 2LT Ashley Goodwin.)
LANSING, Michigan – The Army National Guard has been helping communities across the nation cope with the COVID-19 pandemic in a variety of ways.
Since March, the Michigan Army National Guard has helped the Food Bank Council of Michigan distribute more than 26 million pounds of food, feeding hundreds of thousands of Michigan families during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The National Guard’s involvement has been key to getting more food out to more people throughout this time, and they have been such a tremendous help,” says Kath Clark, director of food programs for the Food Bank Council of Michigan. “All of our volunteers do great work, but when the National Guard comes in, they really put their back into it.”
After Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued a “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order in March, food banks were challenged to find alternative ways to support Michiganders.
“A majority of those working in our food banks are retirees and are at a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus,” says Clark. “Many of the volunteers decided they were going to follow the order early on, understandably, of course, which left us short-staffed.”
The food bank asked for help from the Michigan Army National Guard via the State Emergency Operations Center.
Michigan National Guard support was initiated with 10 to 12 members at each of six food bank distribution sites – in Ann Arbor, Battle Creek, Comstock Park, Flint, Pontiac, and Royal Oak. Their assistance has helped increase the distribution of resources to families in need by 41 percent.
“This mission has allowed a unique opportunity to directly apply the skills from my civilian career to a military mission,” says Sergeant (SGT) Kyle Greenway, 1433rd Engineer Company, Michigan Army National Guard.
The Army National Guard provides Citizen-Soldiers the opportunity to pursue a civilian career while serving part-time in their home State, so your service directly supports your community. In return for their service, Soldiers receive benefits, including money for college, VA home loans, and Guard pay, among others.
“I am the non-commissioned officer in charge at the Gleaners Community Food Bank in Pontiac, Michigan, and on the civilian side, I am a manufacturing shipping supervisor in Holland, Michigan,” SGT Greenway says.
“By combining good manufacturing practices and the hard work ethic of the Michigan Army National Guard, my team has been able to increase the output of production at our site by more than 300 percent,” SGT Greenway says. “This is a testament to the readiness and commitment of the Michigan Army National Guard to serving our fellow Michiganders in times of need.”
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From an original article by 2LT Ashley Goodwin, Michigan National Guard, which appeared in the news section of NationalGuard.mil in June 2020.