During the recession of 1981, layoffs left many families in the greater Lansing area without resources. Some faced tough choices: whether to pay for housing, medicine, utilities, or food.
To help ensure that no one in our community had to go hungry, community leaders David Hollister, Camille Abood, Patrick Babcock, and William Long founded the Greater Lansing Food Alliance–now known as the Greater Lansing Food Bank (GLFB).
In the early days of the alliance, local organizations and businesses held monthly food drives. Collected food was stored in an unused Lansing Schools building, sorted by volunteers, and distributed by Ingham County through an informal network of eight area churches.
By 1982, the GLFB leadership knew the pantry system alone could not meet the community’s food needs, and launched The Garden Project. This program provides garden plots, seeds, tools and gardening knowledge to people in underserved areas so they can grow, harvest, prepare, and preserve their own vegetables and increase the local supply of fresh, nutritious food.
In 1992, the food bank addressed another unmet need—preventing wholesome prepared food from going to waste–and Food Movers was born. Through this program, volunteers “rescue” excess food from licensed kitchens, local grocery stores and bakeries, and deliver it to our partner shelters, community kitchens, senior centers, and others in need.
In 2012, the Board of the American Red Cross, Mid-Michigan Chapter, which operated the Mid-Michigan Food Bank and the Board of the GLFB announced that the two organizations would be combining operations. The new consolidated food bank kept the GLFB name, and featured a new logo and an expanded mission focused on feeding those in need in the seven counties of Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, Shiawassee, Gratiot, Clare and Isabella.
Although the GLFB was originally established as a temporary measure, food needs have continued to grow. And the GLFB—through its pantries, agencies, gardens, and rescue efforts—continues to work hard to feed the hungry. It is able to carry out its mission, in large part, because of the efforts of many outstanding volunteers, the assistance of its partner organizations, and the extraordinary generosity of this community.