With schools closed and many families facing unemployment due to COVID-19, food insecurity surged throughout Michigan starting in March and hit those in poverty harder than others.
Expanding its typical efforts to meet the increased need, Zaman mobilized to serve as an emergency food distribution center despite dealing with its own budget crunch brought on by the pandemic.
“The demand skyrocketed and we went from serving the same number of families in a week that we would typically feed in a month, and we did this facing a $175,000 budget shortfall due to lost revenue,” said Zaman Chief Impact Officer Monica Boomer.
In the first three months of its COVID-19 response, Zaman distributed more than 134,500 pounds – or 67 tons of food through emergency home deliveries and drive-through food distribution events.
Through partnerships with Gleaners Community Food Bank, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and local school districts, Zaman has provided 5,000 emergency food kits to those in need to date. This includes low-income families, seniors, and students who rely on free and reduced meals during normal school operations.
“It’s heart-breaking to see vehicles lined up for blocks filled with people who had no other way to consistently put food on the table,” said Zaman Founder and CEO Najah Bazzy. “We knew we had to find a way to meet the increased need. We were blessed to have many organizations and donors step up and offer financial support.”
As Zaman transformed its Hope for Humanity Center in Inkster into an emergency food distribution center, organizations and Zamanitarians rallied to provide the funding to help meet the increased need.
Support came from throughout the region from organizations and donors of all sizes. Contributions ranged from donations from a Fortune 500 company, to grants from nonprofits and municipal partners, to crowdsourced fundraising efforts online by individual Zamanitarians.
“We are so thankful to everyone who trusted Zaman to lead during this crisis. It speaks to where we are as an organization,” Bazzy said. “The diversity of the organizations also says something about this region and the impact of coming together collectively when crises arise. It’s awe-inspiring and suggests a path forward to tackle the challenges ahead that threaten to further entrench extreme poverty in our country.”