“I don’t want to deprive anybody of anything. I’ll always get along one way or the other, but if I can get a little help here, it helps," said Everett DeRousha, who has been receiving food from Gleaners Community Food Bank for the past two years. "But I don’t waste it. I make sure somebody else gets what I can’t use."
As a 92-year-old WWII veteran, Everett is no stranger to hard work and service. Every morning, he wakes up at 3 a.m. to get ready for his construction job, where he operates dump trucks. After work, he drives his wife to her doctor's appointments — and on days when Gleaners is hosting distribution events, they wait together in the long line of cars to bring home enough food to last two weeks.
Since the start of the pandemic, Gleaners has hosted emergency mobile food distributions across its five-county service area in Southeast Michigan. Anyone in need of food assistance can drive or walk up to a distribution site and receive 30 pounds of nutritious food, including fresh produce, milk, eggs, dairy, and shelf-stable food items. Additionally, Gleaners distributes food to neighbors in need through its partner network of more than 660 schools, soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters, and other agencies.
“Especially with this disease that came on, prices went up so high. Your gasoline is three dollars and sixty cents a gallon now. I don’t hardly get ten miles per gallon, so I can’t get very far," he said. "People say I should buy a new truck, since it’ll be cheaper, but if I get a new truck, then I’ll have higher insurance, a truck payment, and I still have to buy the gas."
As the cost of living continues to rise, Gleaners is making sure neighbors like Everett have one less thing to worry about — hunger — as they work to make ends meet.
“If other veterans are short on food, yes, they should definitely come here. Because this does help," Everett said. "Every little bit you get always helps. And like I say, I never waste it.”