Michigan National Guard
Story by Staff Sgt. Tegan Kucera
LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan National Guard has been a force multiplier for good in Michigan communities during the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to serve in food banks across the state. Now, the Guard is working with the Greater Lansing Food Bank building thousands of bags full of food and distributing them to local area.
“It’s really gratifying being able to feed the community,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Eran Mikolowski, a service specialist with the COVID-19 response task force working at the food bank. “I am able to use my time and put forth the effort and help others who are not in the greatest situation.”
The We Serve Kids Program is a project the Greater Lansing Food Bank created to ensure area children always have food available. The program is a collaboration between the food bank and area school districts, where the food bank supplies the food and the schools build ‘weekend bags’ for the kids. These bags ensure the children have food for weekends and extended breaks.
“A lot of kids get their meals from school,” said Mikolowski. “I’m happy to know that I’m able to help feed the children of the community so that they don’t have to worry where their next meal is coming from.”
Schools were no longer able to build food bags so the food bank came up with a solution to the problem. They were able to rent former retail space, at no cost, and they invited the National Guard to come and help them keep the program going.
“Having the National Guard here has been invaluable,” said Sarah Szwejda, volunteer program manager for the Greater Lansing Food Bank. “If we didn’t have the Guard here to assist, we definitely couldn’t do our goal of 10,000 bags a month.”
The Michigan National Guard has been able to exceed that goal, compiling 15,000 bags a month. Each bag has peanut butter, apple sauce, soup, juice, granola bars and more kid-friendly foods the children can prepare and eat. The bags will be sent home with kids, giving thousands of kindergarten through 8th graders food for the weekend.
“Being able to send out these bags is important for the kids because it’s something they don’t have to worry about,” said Szwejda. “Food should not be something anybody has to worry about.”