For our second edition of Food Rescue Hero of the Week, Tania and I instantly knew the exact woman we needed to highlight. For years, April Roe Agosta has fed those in need — from her backyard to the back of Thurston High School — nothing stops her mission. Since the pandemic hit, April and her team of volunteers have taken lead in a constantly growing food rescue and distribution mission. Every week, Hazon Detroit partners with April to feed our food insecure neighbors in Redford, MI.
April grew up and lived much of her life in Scotland, moving to America in 1983. She speaks of her home fondly, longing to go back when our world allows for families to once again reunite across the globe. April told us that she has always been a helper, a trait passed down from her father, a man who made sure every person was fed, whether they were his own or not. In a country like Scotland where the government provides extensive housing and medical assistance, money can be secured solely for food. In Scotland, help is given to all — not divided up by race, religion, or class. Hence,
April faced a stark reality when moving to the U.S., coming to terms with the fact that help is a privilege here, not a guarantee. Many Americans survive from paycheck to paycheck, sometimes forced into illegal activities in order to feed their families. This is why April accepts all into her space: regardless of ID, regardless of personal identity.
April first began feeding people fifteen years ago when she worked for Thurston High School; she is responsible for starting the Gleaners program there. Additionally, April also fed people out of her own home. Once the pandemic hit, the need for food grew more than ever, and in August her operation outgrew her garage. With 300-1000 people coming to her home every week, the neighborhood forced her to move her operation elsewhere. Fortunately with all of the connections Ap
ril has made from her years of humble work, she was able to secure the location behind the bleachers of Thurston High School in Redford. April soon coordinated an amazing team of volunteers who spiced up the concession stand into a fully operational makeshift and fast paced food pantry.
What used to be an empty corner under the bleachers now hosts hundreds of people every week, with pounds of food everywhere the eye meets, and adorable holiday decorations to uplift people’s spirits. April’s place, known as the Friends of Eagles Helping Hands, brings in a diverse group of people from all over the Redford area. Many who come to get food are often feeding more families than just their own; one food bank creates a wave of opportunity, reaching those who cannot make it there themselves. With up to ten volunteers a day, individuals or families are able to get free produce, bread, meat, and dairy items where they may not have been able to before. Many food banks requi
re an ID which makes it very difficult for houseless individuals to acquire the help they need. This is not the case at April’s. As she says, “We are all human for God’s sake.”
But this does not mean challenges do not present themselves. There is a constant worry of whether there is enough food. Or if there is enough for Thursday, what about Friday? What about next Friday? One of the biggest challenges to the Friends of Eagles Helping Hands is the upcoming holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Without truckloads of food coming in for those events, they fear the devastation of families
who rely on them, going hungry during such meaningful moments. Many of these families lost their jobs due to Covid yet still do not qualify for food assistance. April carries the weight of all of these families on her own shoulders, working 24/7 to ensure their needs are met.
Yet what keeps her going day after day are the people she meets, those who hug her and walk away with the reassurance of food on their plate. Or those who have taken their time to help her in this mission, whether it be volunteering a few times a week, a man who donated six large tables all the way from China, or a local church who recently donated $500. She is able to do what she does because of others who feel just as strongly about the vitality of food rescue. For Halloween this year the Friends of Eagles Helping Hands took time out of their Saturday to set up a Halloween bash filled with candy and costumes, having kids and families come in to grab sweets and put a smile on their faces. In the midst of a time of mourning and grief, this moment was able to bring joy to so many.
April hopes to continue her work at Thurston High School for at least another four years until the high school kids can one day take it up themselves. She admitted to us she hasn’t taken a day off in years and you can certainly tell how much her labor and care has benefited the community. Everytime we go to the high school to lend a hand, we meet people who come back every week who the volunteers have honed strong relationships with, especially the dogs! The Friends of Eagles Helping Hands is a group of selfless individuals doing everything they can to take care of the community around them, especially when larger institutions have failed them. We are honored to be able to work alongside them and share their beautiful work with all of you.
Interviewed and written by Lily Kollin and Tania Miller, Hazon Detroit’s Repair the World Serve the Moment Fellows