Michigan National Guard
Story by Master Sgt. David Kujawa
DETROIT, — Across the state and now in Detroit, Soldiers and Airmen of the Michigan National Guard (MING) are on duty in local food banks, ensuring the state’s charitable food distribution network is able to complete its mission, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It feels good to support the community I have lived in all my life and be part of a team that is doing something to give people hope,” said U.S. Army Pfc. Antonio Lyte, a defender with the Taylor Armory, in Taylor, Mich., activated to support the COVID-19 Spartan Joint Task Force.
Gleaners Community Food Bank is the state’s largest food charity which serves as a central clearinghouse for many of the state’s food banks. It suspended the majority of the work being done by volunteers due to the organization’s safety precautions leaving a critical void in operations. The volunteer void was filled by the Michigan Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen of the state’s COVID-19 Spartan Joint Task Force.Gleaners partnered with Guard members at its Oakland County Distribution Warehouses. That work has not only continued into 2021, but has expanded into two more Gleaners locations, both n Detroit.
“The detachment of Guard personnel who work at the warehouse has made a big difference,” said Gerry Brisson, president and chief executive officer for the Gleaners Community Food Bank Detroit. “The daily work of the Michigan National Guard makes a tremendous impact on our work. During the pandemic crisis, Gleaners has expanded their food distributions by more than 40 percent in order to reach 150,000 households each month.”
“We are honored and thankful to have the Michigan National Guard stand with Gleaners during this time of great need, we could not have made it without them,” he said.
Leadership of the Michigan National Guard commended the work being done by the guard members.
“Michigan National Guard members are part of the Detroit Community, with nearly 3,000 members living, working, and raising families in the Tri-County Area, and over 300 living in the City of Detroit,” said U.S. Army Major Gen. Paul D. Rogers, adjutant general of the Michigan National Guard. “This makes the teaming up with Gleaners Community Food Bank and Auxiliary Food Bank a great opportunity to unite with all citizens of Detroit and to continue supporting Michiganders during these trying times.”
Like many members of the Michigan National Guard, Lyte is a resident of the community he serves. In his civilian job, he works as a technician for a communications company – serving part-time in the Guard and ready to be called as needed. He was activated for the COVID-19 Spartan JTF in August 2020.
Lyte joined the MING in November 2019 and graduated from his advanced individual training military police course in May 2020. The mobilization for the COVID-19 is the first of his military career.
“I am glad that Gleaners reached out to the MING for assistance and the opportunity to lend a hand,” Lyte said. “I enlisted to do more in my community and to serve my country.”