River Rouge mobile food pantry needed more than ever during pandemic

As the coronavirus forces the shutdown of some businesses and jobs are lost, some communities like River Rouge are being hit hard. 

"(We have) probably fed over a 100,000 families during the Covid season," said Tarence Wheeler, River Rouge School District. "Poverty has no zip code." 

A weekly mobile food pantry in River Rouge opens up on Wednesday's at 9 a.m. However, people start showing up hours before. 

"Normally families are lined up as early as 7:30 in the morning because the need here in great," Wheeler said.

Wheeler, the school district's Director of Corporate and Community Affairs, says River Rouge lacks some basic essentials.

"There are no resources. There is no anchor grocery stores. Some are laid off, some doing best to get by," he said.

So the school district is doing what it can to make sure families have the food they need.

"We've partnered with Forgotten Harvest and every Wednesday we're here at Ann Visger Elementary School at 11121 W. Jefferson," he said. "Over 30,000 pounds of food equivalent to 12,000 meals. We are trying to feed them for the entire week and then they come back the next Wednesday." 

Organizers say you do not have preregister for the mobile food pantry, just show up to the site on West Jefferson, and pack your patience.

"We are not here to judge anybody. I have been in that line before. I know what it feels like," Wheeler said. "Poverty in itself is exhausting."

But when community groups work together, resources are made available to help those in need. 

"It's about how do you improve the conditions of your community," he said.