Two Detroit-area nonprofits, Gleaners Community Food Bank and Lighthouse, announced a new partnership agreement under which Lighthouse will operate its food programs from Gleaners’ Pontiac facilities at 120 E. Columbia Avenue.
Gleaners provides Pontiac-based Lighthouse with a no-cost lease of the facility, while Lighthouse assumes operating and maintenance costs, with the option to purchase the building, the two organizations said in a statement. .
Lighthouse will use the 22,000 square foot building as a new food distribution center, supporting home delivery services, primarily for seniors and those with transportation challenges, as well as agency pickups. The site will also host groups of Lighthouse volunteers, particularly for food packaging activities.
“Over the past two years, Lighthouse has become Gleaners’ largest distribution partner in Oakland County. They are vital to the region,” said Gerry Brisson, President and CEO of Gleaners. “Partnerships are extremely important to Gleaners. When Lighthouse expressed the need for a more stable and affordable facility to centralize its operations, we agreed that the Pontiac facility of Gleaners presents a positive arrangement for both our organizations to have a greater impact on the community and an expanded scope.
“This partnership with Gleaners mutually strengthens our ability to serve vulnerable populations through programs and to meet people where they are,” said Ryan Hertz, President and CEO of Lighthouse. “This move will provide us with the space we need for refrigeration and storage, as well as food distribution capabilities from a strategically located hub, which will improve our community support while reducing costs and global logistical challenges.”
Over the past several months, Gleaners has consolidated its high-volume distribution operations into a new facility in Taylor, in addition to maintaining its headquarters in Detroit.
For Gleaners, the Pontiac location was previously used for storage, transshipment, volunteer work and partner pickups.
As part of Lighthouse operations, collections from Gleaners partners, Kroger Recovery Center and food storage support from Oakland Livingston Social Services Agency will continue at the site.
The Kroger program saves dry groceries and ready-to-eat staples that are not sold in stores and distributes them to food aid organizations.
As host of the program, Lighthouse will receive donations of salvaged food.
Additionally, new partnership opportunities exist for Gleaners and Lighthouse to collaborate on the USDA Supplemental Feeding Program, focused on low-income people 60 and older, providing Lighthouse with the ability to serve other seniors’ communities.
Lighthouse previously ran its emergency food program from a warehouse in Waterford. During the last fiscal year, the organization distributed 2 million pounds of food, serving 27,314 people throughout Oakland County, supported by 6,953 volunteer teams and 25,855 volunteer hours. Additionally, Lighthouse volunteer drivers made nearly 40,000 home deliveries.
Of the 71.4 million pounds distributed by the Gleaners in the previous fiscal year, the largest in Gleaners history, a record 13.3 million pounds of food were delivered to Oakland County , serving more than 100 partners, in addition to the Gleaners’ direct service programs in the county.
Lighthouse was created in 2019 when Lighthouse of Oakland County and South Oakland Shelter merged, bringing together over 75 years of experience serving poor metro Detroiters. Lighthouse offers a wide range of services to those in need, including an emergency shelter and family shelter, food pantry serving over 5,000 people per week, housing assistance programs, support services, follow-up care, etc. To learn more, visit:lighthousemi.org
Gleaners provides food to more than 600 partner agencies, including schools, soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters and others in the region, and complements the efforts of these partners by offering a direct distribution service groceries by car.
In its 2021 fiscal year, Gleaners distributed more than 71 million pounds of food to neighbors in need. For more information, visit gcfb.org.