Stories of Meaningful Change


Stories from the Community Foundation of Greater Flint.

Michigan Beer Industry Rallies to Mitigate Effects of Lead

In January 2016, a state of emergency was declared in the City of Flint due to the lead in water crisis. Days later the Community Foundation received a call from Kris Sirchio, CEO of North American Breweries and parent company to Labatt USA. Kris wanted to do something big to help the families in his beloved hometown.

Five months later, with cooperation from Labatt USA and beer-industry suppliers, wholesalers and retailers, the Michigan beer industry is working together to help mitigate the effects of lead on Flint families.

This summer, the Labatt: Love Michigan program is providing nutritionally-balanced weekend care packs that contain 28 meals (seven meals for each person in a family of four). The Flint Families Summer Nutrition Program began June 24 and continued through August 26. The Community Foundation and its seven partners organized six food distribution sites in partnership with the Genesee County Community Action Resource Department and the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan. Labatt and its partners will help to package and distribute the care packs as part of a volunteer effort that aligns with the program.

"We have a business model that allows us to impact community issues while also doing what we need to do for our business. It is no longer enough for corporations to just make money. We must find inventive ways to enhance the communities in which we operate," said Kris. "We seek to create a ripple effect that brings people, ideas, and resources together. At Labatt, we can make and sell beer, and at the same time, unite and rally our industry to create positive change."

The goal of the Flint Families Summer Nutrition Program is to build a culture of healthy living. Participating families will learn how to prepare food from the weekend care packs through cooking demonstrations sponsored by the Crim Fitness Foundation, the Genesee Intermediate School District, and Michigan State University Extension Services. The Greater Flint Health Coalition hosted fun, physical activities for families.

Three hundred families will receive care packs each week throughout the 10 weeks of summer to help mitigate the negative effects of lead in their bodies.