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Michigan National Guard helps local food bank feed kids

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Timothy Aplin, assigned to the Michigan National Guard’s COVID-19 response task force, is working at the Greater Lansing Food Bank, Lansing, Michigan, Jan. 6, 2021. He is one of five service members assigned to the food bank helping to distribute food to schoolchildren.

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Timothy Aplin, assigned to the Michigan National Guard’s COVID-19 response task force, is working at the Greater Lansing Food Bank, Lansing, Michigan, Jan. 6, 2021. He is one of five service members assigned to the food bank helping to distribute food to schoolchildren.

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan National Guard has been a force multiplier for good in Michigan communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, the Guard is working with the Greater Lansing Food Bank, building thousands of food bags and distributing them to children.

“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 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 food bank officials 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 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 children in kindergarten through eighth-grade 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.”

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