United Way block parties serve up fun and food to hundreds

Published on July 19, 2018 in

Ashley Pruitt was shopping for groceries in her Southwest Detroit neighborhood when she saw a flier for an event that she thought her children—Aydinn, Athena and Mason—would enjoy, with a bounce house, a DJ, face painting and crafts. 

Hosted by United Way for Southeastern Michigan, Meet Up and Eat Up community block parties like the one Ashley and her kids attended also provide free meals to hundreds of families, and a chance to connect with helpful resources like their closest site serving meals to children 18 and under every day of the summer.

“I’ve called United Way before but have never been to a block party,” Ashley said. “This is a nice event to have in our community.” 


Meet Up and Eat Up at Patton ParkMeet Up and Eat Up at Dozier Recreation Center

Nearly 1,000 people served

United Way hosts community block parties at the start of every summer. The goal is to spread the word about the 700 sites across Metro Detroit that serve more than one million free meals to children 18 and under every summer and connect families with resources in their neighborhood. It’s part of our Health work to ensure people have the resources they need to keep their families healthy—like access to food, health care and safe spaces for physical activity. 

“Each year, I’m proud to work with a team that brings these events to life in cities across our region,” says Sara Gold, United Way’s director of Basic Needs Strategy and Child Nutrition. “Our block parties provide a fun and free afternoon for families and, more importantly, make a difference in their lives.” 

In 2018, we hosted two block parties in Detroit and one in Inkster. 

At this summer’s block parties, we connected with more than 1,000 people—offering them a nutritious meal, connecting them with their Meet Up and Eat Up site and sharing information about United Way’s Economic Prosperity, Health and Education work in Southeastern Michigan.

Chef Daniela Abel of Zaman International teaches kids how to cook mushroom crostini at United Way’s Meet Up and Eat Up block party.

New for 2018: Chef demos and crafts for kids 

United Way’s block parties provided a variety of resources and fun learning activities. Our 2-1-1 community advocates connected people to resources; Gleaner’s Food Bank mobile pantry sent families home with fresh food and dry goods; and FCA US LLC brought their mobile technology lab.  

Community organizations like the National Kidney Foundation, Alternatives for Girls and Wayne Metro Community Action Agency were also on hand to share information and resources with families. 

Families were treated to several activities new for 2018, including puppet making and book writing activities and cooking demonstrations by chefs from Zaman International and Detroit Food Academy. Parents were also able to learn about United Way’s newest investments in improving reading proficiency, including Summer Spark. 

Chef Daniela Abel of Zaman hosted the demo at the Inkster block party on June 28. An enthralled group of kids gathered around her chef station to learn how to make Italian mushroom-topped crostini with ricotta cheese. 

“It’s great for kids to be introduced to food from other cultures,” Daniela said. “It makes me really happy that we were a part of the Meet Up and Eat Up block party.” 

Additionally, our partner FCA donated bikes that were raffled off, the Detroit Zoo donated tickets to give to families, and KPMG donated books. 

Though the block party fun is over for 2018, Meet Up and Eat Up sites are open through the end of the summer. To find the site closest to you, text FOOD to 877-877 or call United Way’s 2-1-1 helpline. 

Meet Up and Eat Up is made possible with support from corporate and individual donors, who help us connect thousands of families with resources ever summer. Click here to support Meet Up and Eat Up and help us reach more families and feed more children in 2019

Thank you to our 2018 corporate partners: Meet Up and Eat Up sponsor Wells Fargo, block party sponsor AAA Life, FCA US LLC, KPMG, Quicken Loans, Lear, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and GM.