U-M drive-up donation site will collect food for community, protective gear for health workers

Michigan Medicine partnership with Food Gatherers will help many affected financially by COVID-19 during an unprecedented time of demand

March 31, 2020
Written By:
Kara Gavin

ANN ARBOR—In just one week, the University of Michigan has collected tens of thousands of masks, gloves and other pieces of protective gear from the community to keep front-line health workers at Michigan Medicine safe while they treat an ever-rising number of patients with COVID-19.

Now, the donation drive will take on an added dimension, to address food insecurity and other basic needs, serving community members affected financially by coronavirus-related closures.

Starting today, the donation site will begin accepting nonperishable food and toiletries from the community. These will be given to Food Gatherers, which will distribute them to more than 100 local nonprofit organizations that serve community members in need.

U-M drive-up donation site. Image credit: Michigan Medicine

U-M drive-up donation site. Image credit: Michigan Medicine

Donations of protective gear, food and toiletries will be accepted from noon to 5 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays at Dock 90 of 2800 Plymouth Rd., Ann Arbor. Donors can drive up and drop off their donations without getting out of their cars; donations of this kind are an acceptable reason to leave home under the state of Michigan’s current executive order. Donation drive staff wear protective gear.

Food Gatherers is already experiencing increased demand for food from the agencies it supplies and at its community kitchen. It asks community members to bring extra items they already have on hand.

The most-needed supplies are:

  • Hearty canned soups such as beef stew and chili, especially low-sodium
  • Canned fish and chicken, low-sodium preferred
  • Canned vegetables, low-sodium or no salt
  • Pasta, canned or dry packaged
  • Rice
  • Cereal and oatmeal
  • Granola bars
  • Nut butters or jelly, plastic jars only
  • Baby food and formula, plastic containers only
  • Liquid nutrition drinks such as Ensure
  • Diapers and wipes
  • Soap and shampoo
  • Toothbrushes and toothpaste
  • Disposable razors

Other new, nonperishable foods and toiletry items will also be accepted, but not in glass jars. All food and toiletry items should be unopened and not past their “best by” or “sell by” dates.

T. Anthony Denton

T. Anthony Denton

“We have been astounded by the generosity of our community, from individuals to major companies, as they helped us overcome supply-chain disruptions for the gear our front-line staff need most,” said Tony Denton, senior vice president and chief operating officer of U-M Health System-Michigan Medicine.

“Access to healthy food is a key social determinant of health, and food insecurity was already a major challenge for many within our community even before the coronavirus pandemic arrived. We are pleased to partner with Food Gatherers to make a health difference through this drive to collect food and other items that our community needs most in this time of economic disruption.”

Denton notes that Michigan Medicine already partners with Food Gatherers via the Meals on Wheels programs for Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti that are run by Michigan Medicine’s Community Health Services division. Both programs are supported in part by community financial donations and have increased needs due to COVID-19.

“We could not be more grateful for Michigan Medicine’s food drive,” said Food Gatherers CEO Eileen Spring. “We are open and serving the community, but the current social distancing and shelter-at-home orders have significantly disrupted our usual food rescue and food drive supply chains. This special effort of our medical community, while they are also working to fight COVID-19, is truly appreciated.”

More about the protective gear donation drive

Protective gear being accepted for use at Michigan Medicine includes new or unused:

  • Disposable face masks
  • N95 masks, sometimes called respirators
  • Eye protection, including face shields and safety goggles
    • 3D printing note: Details about officially sanctioned 3D printing specifications for face shields will be shared soon.
  • Disposable gowns
  • Disposable gloves, especially nonlatex
  • Disposable surgical caps
  • Disposable foot covers
  • Wipes: bleach or antimicrobial
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Nasal swabs with nylon shafts
  • Powered air-purifying respirators and PAPR hoods
  • Viral or universal transport medium

Open containers of protective gear are accepted.

Monetary donations to support Michigan Medicine COVID-19 operations, including clinical care and research, can be made at victors.us/covid19. Individuals and companies with questions, or planning large deliveries and shipments, may email [email protected].

Donations of other items are not needed at this time. The acceptance of homemade masks is under consideration, but at this time, Michigan Medicine encourages those making masks at home to donate to organizations that are actively accepting them.

Denton added special thanks to the U-M Medical School student volunteers, and U-M faculty and staff, who have made the supply drive possible. Some of the donated items have already been approved for use by hospital staff and are protecting them during COVID-19 care.

For more information on COVID-19 response at Michigan Medicine, visit www.uofmhealth.org/covid-19-update.

In its first week, from March 21 through March 28, the donation drive collected:

  • Over 5,500 boxes of gloves, totaling hundreds of thousands of gloves
  • 115,000 procedure masks
  • Over 10,000 N95 masks
  • Over 3,000 face shields
  • Over 500 bottles/refills of hand sanitizer
  • Many other supplies