Feed The Vulnerable is a program operated by Great Lakes Empowerment Services Inc, a non-profit organization located in beautiful Grand Ledge, MI just west of Lansing. We are committed to helping end the anxiety and insecurity that thousands of medically vulnerable people feel every day when it comes to figuring out how to access nutritious food predictably, consistently, and without coming into contact with contaminants that may cause serious negative impact on their health.
Our services are for those who have little to no capability to safely leave their homes – this includes some Seniors, individuals being treated for chronic illness, those with immune deficiencies, or those who are home-bound for other medical reasons.
Feed The Vulnerable offers two key platforms:
Hot Meal Delivery: We’re building a network of local restaurants that will offer extremely affordable and delicious hot meals from a fixed price menu we develop with them. The food is prepared according to the best practices that great restaurants always follow to keep people healthy. Once the food is ready to go, our team of trained Delivery Technicians provides a completely sanitized delivery process, allowing our client to enjoy a great meal with complete peace of mind.
Grocery Ordering and Sanitized Delivery: This platform is all about creating the assurance that groceries will arrive at a predetermined scheduled time and will be completely sanitized. It is an assisted program, meaning that those who enroll will be assigned a Client Advocate who helps them set up their bi-weekly grocery delivery. Our team takes it from there...securing the product, sanitizing every package, and delivering it as scheduled in decontaminated containers. Our client doesn’t have to worry about whether or not they’ll be able to access groceries and the risk of infection from others at the store or through contact with a contaminated package is removed.
Clients can call our hot meal ordering hotline or go to FeedTheVulnerable.org to place an order. Our online ordering portal will allow them to select the area of the Greater Lansing region that they live in. The list of participating restaurants in their area will populate. They select the restaurant they want to order from, check out the fixed price menu options, place their order, and schedule their sanitized delivery.
The fixed price menu will generally cost around $7.99 per meal (+ any applicable State sales tax), including sanitized delivery. This service doesn’t require enrollment, though those who enroll in our Grocery Ordering and Delivery program will have the option of adding pre-scheduled hot meal delivery to their orders as well. Donations to our program allow us to keep these costs as low as possible and, even, to offer meals for free to the most financially impacted of those we serve. Every $8 donation has the equivalent impact of providing a sanitized hot meal delivery for someone in serious need.
Feed The Vulnerable also provides roughly 800 restaurant-quality meals every week to local homeless individuals with sanitized delivery to motels around Lansing. We’re doing this in partnership with Holy Cross Services to support their ongoing work during the COVID-19 crisis. Donations allow us to substantially reduce the cost for support services like this as well.
Clients enroll for this program by calling our Enrollment Specialists or, for those who are more tech savvy, by applying online through the FeedTheVulnerable.org website.
While enrollment is open, call-ins leave their information via voice mail and online registrations are processed, which allows our Enrollment Team to begin their application. An Enrollment Specialist contacts the applicant within 24 hours of receiving their information. The Enrollment Specialist conducts a 10-minute interview to ensure that the program is a good fit for the applicant. Upon completion of this assessment, those who will benefit most by participation are enrolled and become clients.
Each client is assigned a Client Advocate, someone who specializes in the client’s specific grocery and hot food needs. We strive to have the same Advocate work with the client for each order cycle, which is generally a two-week period. This provides a level of comfort for clients relationally.
The client and Advocate will have a pre-scheduled standing appointment each week. Grocery orders and deliveries take place, generally, on a bi-weekly basis. The client can choose an automatic renewal of the same items every week or they can change the order when touching base with their Advocate. Those who are comfortable with internet ordering can customize their order at any time during the two-week period, though the order will not be finalized and checked out until the Advocate reviews it with the client at the standing appointment. The Advocate will coach the client on the ordering process in the “mid-cycle” standing call, ensuring that all items are accounted for. Clients may pay for their orders through food subsidy programs, such as MI Bridges or SNAP, or with typical debit and credit cards.
Feed The Vulnerable will maintain a sanitized, climate-controlled warehouse for storing groceries and staging deliveries. The program limits the items that can be ordered to less than 200 highly consumed grocery, personal care, home care, and pet care items. This allows us to buy in bulk quantities directly through distribution channels and local supply networks. Our grocery prices are significantly lower than most larger retail chains and are much more comparable to Aldi or other discount options. Most clients will pay a per order fee of $15 as part of their grocery bill to offset the costs of our program, including food procurement, sanitizing, Client Advocacy, and sanitized delivery*. Those who cannot afford this fee will be subsidized through donations and program sponsorships. Every $15 donation completely offsets the cost of providing this service to one household for a week.
* This fee assumes a household of up to 2 people. It costs us an approximate additional $3 per person over the age of 2 for households greater in size due to added limitations to the number of deliveries we can complete as orders increase in size.
Great Lakes Empowerment Services Inc is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization. This means that 100% of our revenue is used to support our mission. We receive tax deductible donations from individuals. We also partner with local Sponsors, such as medical systems, hospitals, and corporations seeking to support community development.
Our programs are also designed to have a self-sustaining aspect. While we rely upon donations to subsidize pricing, we also receive revenue for the services being provided to greater or lesser extents. In the case of Feed The Vulnerable both hot meal delivery and our fully assisted sanitized grocery service are designed to produce enough income to underwrite the majority of our actual costs. This means that donations and sponsorship dollars allow us to eliminate costs to the most financially vulnerable or to expand the reach of our initiatives.
Great Lakes Empowerment Services Inc has a much broader set of programs. Go to http://gles.org if you’d like to learn more.
One of the areas we focus is on applied building and environmental science. We train technicians in energy waste management, radon measurement and mitigation, and a lot of other scientific applications. We call these initiatives the Snug Home Program, which provides services to utility companies and thousands of residents across Michigan as well as Columbus, OH and Indianapolis, IN.
We also have a Hospitality Program that focuses on training individuals in best practices for food management, restaurant operation, sanitized kitchen processes, and, of all things, AMAZING pit barbecue. We also train in coffee roasting. We operate two “incubator businesses” in this area. One is called Crossroads BBQ of Grand Ledge (www.crossroadsbbqmich.com) and the other is called Rudy Baggs Coffee Roasting Company (www.rudybaggs.com).
So, when we combine our team’s scientific know-how, our development and deployment of programs that reach thousands of homes per year, and our experience in food management we end up with a pretty unique blend.
Our process for sanitizing involves detailed protocols that meet or exceed the action steps for cleaning in hospitals and the management of personal protective equipment. Every step in the procurement, production, and delivery processes start with the assumption that each exposed surface (packages, the outside of our masks, our aprons, gloves, cell phones, and vehicles) is contaminated and must be thoroughly cleaned with approved sanitizer or removed and disposed of according to isolation protocols.
Our first step is to ensure that every employee or volunteer involved in handling food, packaging, or delivery are verified as healthy. We check temperatures before entering our workspaces. We ask direct questions about symptoms at the start of every shift. If there is any sign of illness we ask them to head home.
Next, every technician, volunteer, or administrator uses masks, gloves, and a washable apron or other exterior cover. Masks and gloves are removed and sanitized or replaced between every delivery order and aprons are wiped down with an alcohol solution greater than 60%.
Each item that enters our kitchens or warehouse is thoroughly sanitized with decontaminants approved by the EPA and FDA to eliminate virus and bacteria including HIV, Influenza, and SARS- COV-2 (the novel coronavirus), among most others. It is then stored in pre-sanitized areas that are re-sanitized daily.
Finally, at the time of delivery each item is sanitized one more time before being placed in sealed decontaminated containers before being brought to our clients.
One of the most important ingredients to bring this process together is shared mission and voluntary accountability. Our team is dedicated to this process. The result is that we hold each other accountable with serious commitment...there are no shortcuts.
If you’d like more details on our protocols please send an email to email@example.com and ask for a copy of our protocol manual.
Enrollment will be open based upon the resources our Program has. As we gain momentum we will have the means to open up to more and more Clients. Our initial target for the second quarter of 2020 is to build capacity to support 1000 enrolled households.
Our list of participating restaurants will be updated daily at the FeedTheVulnerable.org website. Since this is a brand new initiative our commercial kitchen is supplying the sanitized hot meals. We are in discussion with many of your favorite local eateries and we hope to have a broad selection soon.
Volunteers can work in the kitchen, serve as Client Advocates from their own home (with a good internet connection and computer), and provide delivery services. Volunteers will play a critical role in our program and every person who gives of their time will have the immediate impact of helping us expand the number of people we serve.
You can go to the FeedTheVulnerable.org website! Just click the button that best fits what you’d like to do. You can request enrollment, donate, request more detailed information, or sign up to volunteer! We hope to hear from you soon.
Click ORDER NOW to order! Click DONATE to make a contribution! Click VOLUNTEER to connect with our volunteer coordinators.
LET’S TAKE CARE OF OUR OWN!