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Flint food bank steps up, first with water, now with lead-fighting foods

Sarah Hulett
Michigan Radio

The Food Bank of Eastern Michigan has had to swing into high gear in the wake of the Flint water crisis.

“We traditionally did about 1.6 million pounds out of the food bank, in January of 2015,” said president Bill Kerr. “This year we did over 3 million pounds.”

Kerr says water accounted for the increase, with about 1.4 million pounds of water distributed at 140 sites last month.

Now, Kerr says the food bank is tweaking its operations again.

Good nutrition is one way to fight the effects of lead exposure, which can lead to problems like lower IQ and stunted growth. Foods high in iron, especially, can help mitigate those problems.

And Kerr says many of those foods – like peanut butter and tuna – are already food bank staples. But he says they’ll be working to make sure those foods make their way into the city’s pantries, and onto mobile food bank trucks, which will start Feb. 22.

Credit Sarah Hulett / Mic
Gov. Snyder and Food Bank of Eastern Michigan President Bill Kerr.

One lead-fighting food Flint residents might not see a lot of at their neighborhood food pantry?


“I don’t even know what kale tastes like, OK? So, I didn’t select that – I’d rather go for tuna fish, or ground turkey, because I’m more apt to eat that myself,” Kerr says.

Gov. Rick Snyder toured the facility today, and sorted cans and boxes of food alongside students from Detroit’s Renaissance High School, who were there for a day of service.

Sarah Hulett is Michigan Radio’s Director of Amplify & Longform, helping reporters to do their best work.
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