Our Programs

Summer Food Service Program

The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is a critical source of food for families in the summer, replacing the free and reduced price meals children receive during the school year. Food Gatherers is the largest sponsor of the SFSP in Washtenaw County, providing free summer meals for children and teens at sites located throughout the community. 

Since 2019, Food Gatherers also operates a mobile meal program as part of the SFSP, delivering meals five days a week to areas of our community where children cannot easily access a SFSP site for summer meals.

Find a Summer Food Service program site near you.

Two volunteers in front of the Meet Up and Eat Up van

Healthy School Pantry Program

The Healthy School Pantry Program (HSPP) is designed to provide free, wholesome food — mainly produce — to families of students enrolled in Washtenaw County schools where a majority of students qualify for free or reduced-price meals. The goal of this program is to provide wholesome food, healthy recipes, and nutrition education in a fun and engaging environment in an effort to improve the health of children in our community. View the list of participating schools.

The 2019⁠–2020 HSPP evaluation, made possible by the Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition, is available here.

A girl with brown hair smiles with a slice of watermelon in her hand

Food Gatherers Community Kitchen

The Food Gatherers Community Kitchen is a direct service program open to anyone in need of a meal. The Community Kitchen is located in the Robert J. Delonis Center (also home to the Shelter Association of Washtenaw County) at 312 W. Huron Street in Ann Arbor. The Community Kitchen serves lunch and dinner Monday through Friday and a mid-afternoon meal on Saturday and Sunday. Additionally, the Community Kitchen provides breakfast to residents of the Shelter Association every day of the week. The Community Kitchen focuses on providing delicious and nutritious meals that are high in protein and include fruits and vegetables.

Since opening in 2003, the Food Gatherers Community Kitchen staff and volunteers have served more than 1.5 million meals to our neighbors in need! Learn more about volunteering at the Community Kitchen.

Three volunteers work preparing food in a kitchen

Neighborhood Grocery Initiatives

Food Gatherers’ Neighborhood Grocery Initiatives (NGIs) are monthly, perishable food distributions at affordable housing communities throughout the county. These NGIs are funded by Food Gatherers and operated in partnership with each site’s staff and volunteers. NGIs provide produce along with other staples to families, individuals, and seniors who may not be able to travel to other local food distribution sites. NGIs complement our existing network of partner agencies and ensure residents can access fresh food close to home.

The 2022 NGI program evaluation was completed in collaboration with Listen4Good. The one-page evaluation summary is available here in English, Spanish, and Chinese.

Three volunteers work preparing food in a kitchen

Health Care and Food Bank Partnership Initiative

The Health Care and Food Bank Partnership Initiative creates a connection between local health care institutions and Food Gatherers’ network of partner pantries. It is designed to increase access to food for members of our community by:

  • Establishing food insecurity and healthy food access screening and referral programs at primary care providers
  • Training medical residents, medical students, and allied health professionals on the role of food security as a key social determinant of health 
  • Elevating the issue of hunger and healthy food access across health care networks, social service providers, community organizations, and government agencies

Food Gatherers is working with Michigan Medicine, St Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor, and IHA along with community-based clinics such as The Hope Clinic, Packard Health, and The Corner Health Center. This collaboration between health care providers and Food Gatherers helps patients obtain quality food with dignity and provides the necessary support to maintain good health.

Three volunteers work preparing food in a kitchen

Connecting the dots between hunger and health

Healthy bodies and minds require nutritious meals at every age. When children, adults, and seniors don’t have enough food or have to choose inexpensive foods with low nutritional value, it can seriously impact their health. Food Gatherers is committed to distributing foods with a higher nutritional value to meet the health needs in our community. Our goal is that each year 60% of all food distributed will be protein or produce, including fresh and frozen items. 

In 2019, the Food Gatherers board of directors adopted a formal nutrition policy that prioritizes procuring and distributing nutritious and economically valuable food to our neighbors experiencing food insecurity. Read Food Gatherers’ Nutrition Policy.

a young boy smiles at the camera while holding a sandwhich