Throughout June, United Ways across Michigan are participating in a first-ever statewide event to collect food in their areas, for their areas.

Every year, food pantries across Northern Michigan are fully stocked in the winter months thanks to generous holiday donations—but when summer comes, donations drop considerably and pantry shelves become sparse. This can leave low-income, hard-working families with limited options during this time of year. United Way of Northwest Michigan, working in partnership with the Northwest Food Coalition, is asking local businesses and community members to participate in a “Summer Stock Up” event to restock local food pantries with items to get them through the warmer months.

“With several churches and organizations still quarantining who support our pantries, many are having to severely reduce income to them. This stock up drive comes at a very crucial time for our community,” says Val Stone, Coordinator for Northwest Food Coalition.

Join United Way in bringing some cheer to local pantries this June! “Shop your Impact” online.

How Summer Stock Up Was Born

The statewide Summer Stock Up event evolved out of the popular “Christmas in June” local food drive that was done annually by United Way of Southwest Michigan. In 2020, because of the pandemic, UWSM pivoted from an in-person food drop-off event to a virtual event that provided safe shopping options that allowed donors to “shop their impact” by giving online.

The success of “Christmas in June” caught the attention of Kellogg’s, and the corporation stepped in to help reconceptualize it as a statewide “Summer Stock Up.” As the premier sponsor, Kellogg’s has been a leader in rallying 23 United Ways in Michigan to the cause. In-person and virtual versions of the event will be available depending on the needs and situations of each United Way.

Addressing Food Insecurity is Critical

38 percent of Michigan households work but struggle to make ends meet. Those households—whose incomes are above the Federal Poverty Level but below the basic cost of living—are referred to as ALICE, which stands for “Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.”

Over the last decade, behind the veneer of a strong economy, conditions have actually worsened for thousands of families across Michigan—setting the stage for the dual health and economic crises of the COVID-19 pandemic. Why?

  • The cost of living has been increasing for ALICE households.
  • The economy is increasingly dominated by jobs with low wages and less security.
  • The number of ALICE households in Michigan increased in response to the Great Recession and never fully recovered.

Much of United Way’s impact work is designed to help ALICE. Michigan United Ways report annually on ALICE data and analysis.