Battling Hunger in Detroit

Nov 17, 2017

If you are like most of us, you probably can’t even remember what you had for breakfast this morning.  Meals are something we tend to take for granted – until we are hungry.  

As a new team member with The Salvation Army, I spent a day riding on one of our Bed and Bread trucks, feeding the hungry in Metro Detroit.  This experience is something I will never forget and feel compelled to share…

We started the day at the Harbor Light Community Center, loading up the truck with food  – sandwiches (today they are bologna on wheat bread), 30 gallons of homemade navy bean soup with meatballs (it smells incredible),  30 gallons of hot chocolate, yogurt cartons and an afternoon snack.  Volunteers from various companies come to the center each day to make the sandwiches. Me and another new team member from the Salvation Army hop on the truck and we are on our way. 

Our Salvation Army Bed and Bread truck is taking the neighborhood route.  There are two other trucks that cover different parts of the city – more than 50 stops in all each day.  Our driver, Greg, instructs us to bag sandwiches – we need at least 400 in packs of two -- while he drives to our first stop at Eastern Market.  It’s a sub-zero wind-chill day and many schools are closed, so it is sure to be a busy one.

When we arrive at Eastern Market, the line has already formed and winds around the sidewalks and down the street as far as I can see.  Some bring their own plastic grocery bags to help carry their meal if they have a long walk to wherever they are currently staying. They know when to expect us and they know they can always count on The Salvation Army Bed and Bread truck to arrive and bring them food and comfort, no matter how cold or snowy or rainy it might be, 365 days a year.

Greg reminds us that soup will be in demand today due to the temperatures, but we have to be careful we don’t run out.  Two soups are allowed only if they are picking up food for another family member.  Hot chocolate will be popular today, too, with the steamy drink a welcome bit of relief.  There will also be plenty of kids today with schools closed, so they will get yogurt and snack bars along with their meal.

The people we meet are some of the most grateful and gracious people I have ever met. Their hands reach up to take the food – some have no gloves on at all -- but they don’t seem to care at the moment. Our driver, Greg knows the regulars on this route and he knows their particular needs – which ones may need a dry pair of socks or gloves or even a blanket, if they are living on the streets.

After receiving their food, which might be their only meal of the day, they say “God bless you.” And they mean it.

We move on to stop at several more locations around the city – along Grand Boulevard, to midtown and to Mexicantown.  At each stop, I slide open the serving window and realize I have a glimpse into an entirely different world. It is as if I am experiencing a new city each time – different faces, ethnicities and cultures, all bound by the same basic needs – hunger and a touch of humanity. 

 “God bless you, too,” we say in return.  And we mean it.

If you would like to volunteer for the Salvation Army, please let us know by visiting our volunteer website.

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