City of Detroit COVID-19 Food Delivery Program Extended

The City of Detroit Parks & Recreation Division will extend the COVID-19 Food Delivery program through the end of 2020. In March, the program pilot began with support from the Mayor’s Office Innovation Team and has served more than 100,000 meals to homebound residents. Continuation and expansion of this successful pilot program will be supported by CARES funds through December, to ensure homebound Detroit families have access to food while minimizing risk associated with the continuing pandemic.

In addition to these financial investments, the City is excited to announce a partnership with the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM) to act as the official operations hub moving forward. This partnership with DRMM will allow for sustainable improvement and expansion of services and will provide the program with critical food storage resources and facilities.

“We are pleased to partner with the city in this important program that is in keeping with our long-standing commitment to community food security and nutrition,” said Dr. Chad Audi, DRMM president and CEO.

The goal of this program is to meet critical needs for Detroit residents during COVID-19. While thousands of meals have been offered at sites across the city through mobile pantries and curbside distribution at schools and recreation centers, some COVID-19 positive residents needed an alternative. One resident shared that “Food boxes allowed me to stretch meals and helped a whole lot. This program filled in the gaps while waiting for food benefits and stimulus money.” Another resident reported that “Wednesdays are the highlights of my week because I feel loved and happy to receive the food.” Detroit Parks & Recreation ran the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) for the City of Detroit prior to COVID and this program has been a natural extension of that work. The department has been able to secure buy-in from key partners at the state and local level. The plan to continue this work will fill the gap for residents with transportation barriers.

The delivery initiative was developed and led through a strong partnership between the Parks & Recreation Department and the Mayor’s Office’s Innovation Team (i-team). The i-team is a grant-funded team that uses community outreach and human-centered design to research and implement strategic solutions to some of the city’s most pressing issues. The i-Team’s work includes Connect4Care Kids, the newly-launched childcare information tool, an Open For Business Guide designed to make it easier for home-based childcare providers to open their businesses, and ongoing research into the accessibility of quality afterschool program access across the city.

“This is an exciting opportunity for us to continue providing this critical service to our residents”, said Alicia Moon, executive director, City of Detroit Mayor’s Office Innovation Team.

Salvation Army, Gleaners Community Food Bank, and Project Isaiah served as partners throughout the pilot by contributing funding resources and food. As the pilot transitions,
United Way of Southeastern Michigan has committed an additional $25,000 to expand this program. Use of these funds will include paid interns who will provide staffing and project management support and securing reliable food sources for the duration of the program. The University of Michigan Ford School Of Public Policy has also agreed to act as a research and implementation partner.

“By expanding this program, Detroit Parks & Recreation plans to continue meeting the needs of the communities we serve by being there when they need us most”, said Erin Casey, Assistant Director, Detroit Parks & Recreation. “The relationships that the department has built within the community are sustained by being able to offer this support to residents.”

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