Opinion: Holiday season doesn’t abolish food insecurity in Detroit

Max Hardy

As a chef, I’m surrounded by two things — food and people. If our current time has shown me anything, it’s that I’m privileged to serve my community. At every food distribution, I strive not just to feed Detroiters but provide a meal that comforts them. As we observe Giving Tuesday (Dec. 1), I ask you to take action to combat hunger in our city.

According to a 2019 report by the Detroit Food Policy Council, 39% of Detroit households were food insecure. During the pandemic, Detroit’s food insecurity has dramatically increased due to loss of income or families faced with the difficult decision of choosing among critical bills like transportation, medicine, or food.

More than ever, it's essential to support a local food charity's efforts this holiday season when the effects of hunger are felt more intensely. My team of volunteer chefs, in partnership with the Horatio Williams Foundation, has donated more than 100,000 meals to Detroit families in need. Without our team’s work, many would find it impossible to receive food independently, even though so many take a well-rounded feast for granted.

Before the pandemic, 1 in 7 Detroiters struggled with hunger. These are the people that I’ve been humbled and fortunate enough to serve, Hardy writes.

Before the pandemic, 1 in 7 Detroiters struggled with hunger. These are the people that I’ve been humbled and fortunate enough to serve. The pandemic has shed a glaring light on how many people are living paycheck to paycheck or are unable to survive on their savings. Food banks and other nonprofits have been stretched thin, and they need us to do our part.

This Giving Tuesday, and year-round, we urge Detroiters to assist local nonprofits in their mission to support the community by:

►Give your time. Volunteer with nonprofit organizations in your community. Learn more about the current needs of the organizations and make a difference in your community.

►Donate money or food. Donations and government funding support many nonprofits; any extra funds or product support can go a long way.

►Tell a friend, family member, or local official. Use your voice to share the mission of your local nonprofits. Educate others on current issues in your community and what they can do to help.

►Support businesses that partner with nonprofit organizations. When making essential purchases, look for companies with vital corporate social responsibility programs.

►Provide your expertise. Reach out to local nonprofits to offer your expertise for pro bono work.

My fight against food insecurity won’t stop after the pandemic. To combat hunger on a large scale, we all must work together and combine our efforts. To learn more about how you can help our mission to feed Detroiters, please visit The Horatio Williams Foundation.

Max Hardy is the owner and head chef of COOP Detroit and founder of the nonprofit, One Chef Can 86 Hunger, a not-for-profit organization that works toward raising awareness and fighting the hunger epidemic in America.