Women's Power Breakfast Raises Funds for Gleaners

‘You Are What You Eat’ rings absolutely true, say health professionals at recent Gleaners fundraiser.

I just stopped at in Troy to pick up some chicken, cilantro, rice, limes, tortillas, tomatoes and more. Tonight, we’re having tacos.

While perusing the chicken prices, I thought about what I had heard earlier Tuesday at the Women's Power Breakfast, a fund-raiser for Gleaners: "314,000 kids in Southeast Michigan participate in special, school-meal programs because their families can’t afford to feed them properly."

Thousands of parents in Metro Detroit aren’t lucky enough to stop at Hollywood or on the way home to pick up healthy fare for their young ones. And without healthy food, kids can suffer from far beyond nutritional issues.

The Power Breakfast is one of the fund-raisers that aims to put a dent in that statistic. The $230,000 in proceeds from this week's breakfast will help to provide some 600,000 meals for children and families in Southeast Michigan.

“My biggest concern is brain development," said Mary Lu Angelilli, M.D., chief of staff for Children's Hospital in Detroit and one of the women at the breakfast. "I worry about their IQ, and about things like attention span, motor delays or speech delay.”

Dr. Herman Gray, president of Children’s Hospital, cited Angelilli and others as he recently spoke to the 463 women at the annual breakfast, a benefit Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan (locations in Detroit, Howell, Pontiac, Taylor and Warren).

The event was held at GM Wintergarden, in Detroit.

Vicki Lamers, an unemployed mother who attended with12-year-old daughter  Maureen, said they aren’t ever positive where their next meal will come from. Lamers, who lost her job several months ago, told the breakfasting women that the highlight of her 50th birthday was landing an appointment to enroll in a Food Stamp program.

“That was a great birthday gift,” she told the audience, “because at least I knew I’d eventually be able to provide food for my daughter.” She also recalled a poignant moment that occurred when she was cleaning out her daughter’s backpack. “In her pack was an envelope for me and inside the envelope was a gift card to Kroger," she said. "It was signed anonymous.”

To feel the affection from a family member or friend is special. But to feel the affection from a complete stranger goes one huge step further.

Other things pointed out at the Gleaners fundraiser:

• “It all starts at such a basic place — with food. You can’t pay attention in school if you haven’t eaten right. In the long run, that affects your entire life.” — Anne Mortensen, M.D., director of pediatrics, Children’s Hospital

• “We are what we eat. Even well-fed teenagers can suffer from malnutrition by eating just junk food and pop. Someone’s small intervention can have a huge impact.”  — Dr. Herman Gray, president of Children’s Hospital 

Kitchen Kudos

Tonight, if you find yourself pulling out pans, chopping vegetables, cutting fruit and shaking salad dressings, give yourself a pat on the back for cooking nutritional, homemade meals that in the long run will not only keep your family members healthy but will help maintain a "healthy" society, too.   

Also, give yourself a high five if you take time to read food labels and weed out junk food from your kids’ diets.

And while you're at it, if you’ve got the means, consider helping to feed other families, too.

Visit www.gcfb.org or call (866) GLEANER for more information about Gleaners Community Food Bank. A really easy way to make a difference in a child’s life is to participate in the “Gleaners Weekend Backpack Program,” which “fills young tummies and fuels young minds.” A $170 donation supplies one child for one school semester, providing tuna, beef stew, cereal, fruit and vegetables and more.  


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