Michigan residents package free meals for families in need

Following Michigan’s K-12 school closures and stay-at-home order, efforts to flatten the COVID-19 curve presented greater challenges to food-insecure families. School districts, small businesses and organizations responded to the crisis with an abundance of free food-distribution services and support. On March 20, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer joined Lansing School District staff and volunteers including MSU professor Robert Kolt to distribute donated school supplies and sack lunches at Sexton High School. 

“It breaks my heart to think that because school is closed there might be a kid who doesn’t get to eat anything that day,” said Lansing Board of Education president Gabrielle Lawrence. 

The Lansing School District established 22 food distribution sites for students and families to receive lunches Monday through Friday during Michigan’s K-12 school closure. “I’m so proud of our district for being able to offer these food services to families as we’re going through this unprecedented crisis,” said Lawrence. 

According to Whitmer, about 750,000 children in Michigan qualified for free and reduced cost lunch this year. While school districts are not required to provide free meal programs during the state-mandated closure, hundreds of districts initiated drive-up, pickup and bus-delivery services for the remaining part of the K-12 school year. 

Angela Mercer, administrative assistant at the Van Buren Public Schools, said, “Students need structure.

Two business partners in vintage clothes stand outside their store.

COVID-19 presents challenges for small-business owners

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an order to close dine-in services and most non-essential businesses including coffee shops, gyms and theaters. By March 23, Whitmer issued a stay-at-home order for all non-essential workers, causing small businesses to close their doors indefinitely. See how three businesses are trying to cope.

Group works to get out Asian-American vote

In 2007, APIAVote-MI started as a small activist group informing voters about the harms brought on by a 2006 Michigan amendment, Proposal 2, that banned affirmative action programs in education. Since then, the group has registered thousands of Asian-American and Pacific Islander voters, held voter education events and reminded individuals via phone and mail to prioritize voting.

Line of students inside hallway

Biden wins Michigan primary; state’s new voting laws get test

Former Vice President Joe Biden was projected to win today’s Michigan Democratic primary as the state tried out its new voting rules. Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose campaign got a lift in the 2016 Michigan primary, found 2020 to be deflating.

East Lansing, including MSU students who were registered on campus, also faced questions about renewing property taxes that support the Capital Area Transportation Authority, Ingham County parks and trails, Potter Park Zoo, special education services and county health care services.

MSUvote hosts Absentea Party

MSUvote, a non-partisan committee made up of Michigan State students, faculty and community members, hosted an event on Tuesday, Feb. 11 at Erickson Hall on MSU’s campus encouraging students to register to vote and sign up for absentee ballots. “Our primary purpose is to get people registered to vote and to make sure they get educated on all the candidates and all the issues,” said Suchitra Webster, co-chair of MSUvote and Michigan State University community liaison. “Our primary purpose is to get people registered to vote and to make sure they get educated on all the candidates and all the issues,” said Suchitra Webster, co-chair of MSUvote and Michigan State University community liaison. The event, called the Absentea Party, took place at Erickson Hall.

League of Women Voters celebrates 100 years of unity

League of Women Voters of Lansing Area board meeting on Feb. 5 (left to right): Margo Smith, Camilla Davis, Judy Culham, Barb Bidigare, Cele Friestater, Donna Mullins, Ellen Link, Bob Miller, Dorothy Engelman, Carol Swinehart and Bettie Menchik. Bertha Wallerstein, mother of 87-year-old League of Women Voters member Kate O’Neill, went to jail for protesting in front of the White House for her right to vote in Feb. 1919. O’Neill, former arts writer for the “Lansing State Journal,” described her mother as “passionate and outspoken,” while “dramatic in her approach to life.” 

Kate O’Neill’s mother Bertha Wallerstein (right) in 1913