186,000 Kids in Wayne County Are Hungry—Including Dearborn Youth

More than 300,000 children in southeast Michigan don't get enough to eat, negatively impacting health, learning and more.

One in four Michigan children lives in poverty, and that puts them at risk of not getting enough food.

More than 40 percent of the people Gleaners Community Food Bank helps are children younger than 18. Sadly, that need is far from being filled.

Gleaners actively works to eradicate hunger, targeting a five-county area—Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland and Wayne—in southeast Michigan. It provides 45 million pounds of food each year to Michigan’s hungry via its 600 partner food pantries, schools, soup kitchens, shelters and nonprofits.

But the need continues to grow.

“Last year more than 317,000 children in southeast Michigan qualified for free or reduced fee lunches—about 3,000 more than the year before,” says Natalie Fotias, marketing manager for Gleaners.

In 2009, according to Kids Count in Michigan data, 45.8 percent of Michigan students qualified for a free or reduced-cost lunch. That's a 26 percent jump from 2006, according to Fotias.

In Dearborn, the statistics are even steeper.

For 2011-12 school year, . Just five years ago, that number was around 9,000.

Numbers for 2012-13 were not immediately available, though the district anticipates that the number increased.


Donate by shopping Gleaners' virtual grocery shelves: Click to get started!

Follow progress of Patch's fight against hunger: Click to watch donations grow!


Each of the five counties Gleaners serves saw double-digit spikes over those three years—Livingston, 55 percent, to more than 5,500 students; Macomb, 59 percent, to more than 54,000; Monroe, 47 percent, to more than 8,800; Oakland, 45 percent, to more than 61,000; and Wayne, a 14 percent rise, to more than 186,000.

Hunger isn’t just a gnawing pain in a child’s belly.

“(It) has a big impact on a child,” Fotias says. “Kids that are hungry can’t focus in the classroom, (and) studies show they lag behind their peers and typically aren’t able to make that gap up later in life.”

She shares some scary statistics:

  • Children receiving insufficient nutrition are 90 percent more likely to be in fair or poor health (Source: John T. Cook, Ph.D., associate professor at Pediatrics of Boston and primary author of Child Food Insecurity: The Economic Impact on our Nation)
  • Even a short spell of malnutrition can have long-term effects on children's cognitive development (Source: The Effects of Poverty on Children by Jeanne Brookes-Gunn and Greg J. Duncan)
  • Kids who don't get enough to eat likely fall behind in their studies, too, putting them at a disadvantage from their properly fed peers (Source: Harry J. Holzer’s The Economic Costs of Poverty in the U.S.)

Simply put, a healthy, balanced and nutritionally complete diet does a body, a brain, and the whole society good.

How can you help? Join Patch in our virtual food drive, which runs through Nov. 17. Click here to help! Then share this with your friends and family.

City of Dearborn November 13, 2012 at 05:07 PM
A comment was deleted from this story because it violated our terms of use. Please refer to those terms (dearborn.patch.com/terms) if you're unsure about your comment. Or, just use the general rule of no profanity, no hate, no name-calling. Thanks!
Lee Jacobsen November 13, 2012 at 07:16 PM
Who was the president during this time? Obama. Who is the the president for the next 4 years? Obama Who do we blame for the Hungry kids , in the past, and for the next 4 years? Bush of course.
Marci November 14, 2012 at 10:24 PM
Our communities and ourselves as a nation are the ones who are responsible, It takes a village to raise a child. Enough blaming the government,our government and its failures is a reflection of us as individuals.
Lee Jacobsen November 15, 2012 at 12:16 AM
Marci, you are correct in that it takes a village to raise a child. However, the govt has a big say in how that child is raised since the govt is involved with the village. In Palastine, in some schools the child is taught that blowing yourself up in the name of Allah is good, other schools frown on the practice. Our schools tend to be on the liberal side of education, and if a student questions the liberal tack, his grades suffer. Smart conservative kids nod their heads obediently , write as they are told, and then use common sense. Remember Fiddler on the Roof? Out of nowhere, the govt, for no reason, said they must move from their village. Govt has the power. Who picks out the school books? Govt folk. Who writes history books? The victors. If someone has more than you do, he is greedy, never mind that he worked harder for it. Someone else will think you are greedy, as there are always folk with less. Govt will fix all that. They will distribute the wealth evenly. Obama explained that already, and , if you are among the fortunate that still pays taxes , you will pay more. Look how efficiently they handle Social Security. No waiting , right? Can you imagine how efficient the govt will be with Obamacare? This will encourage reading in the classroom, as folk will prepare for retirement by amassing many books to read while waiting in the SS centers and Obamacare exchange centers. Cell phones are not allowed......oops, only Obamaphones.......


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