Feeding America West Michigan Receives $28,400 Food Safety Grant from Walmart Foundation

Comstock Park, MI — August 13, 2015 — Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank today announced a $28,400 grant from the Walmart Foundation to fund continuous advancements in food safety operations. The grant is designed to help Feeding America’s nationwide network of member food banks continue to meet and exceed the standards of food safety across the country.

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Feeding America West Michigan passed its first AIB inspection this June, thanks in part to funding from the Walmart Foundation.

Feeding America West Michigan passed its first AIB inspection this June, thanks in part to funding from the Walmart Foundation.

The funding will be used at Feeding America West Michigan’s Benton Harbor and Cadillac branches, as well as its Comstock Park headquarters.

The grant has already made an impact at the organization. Aided by the Walmart funding, Feeding America West Michigan was able to make the infrastructure improvements needed to pass its first food safety audit from AIB International this June. Feeding America West Michigan will use the remainder of the grant to stay current on the food safety certification standards put forth by AIB, the gold standard for food safety. The Walmart Foundation’s grants range from investments in education and staff training about food safety to equipment and operational upgrades that enhance safe food storage.

“This grant will help the Food Bank meet the growing needs of the people in West Michigan and the Upper Peninsula who are struggling to put food on the table,” said Ken Estelle, CEO of Feeding America West Michigan. “We are grateful that the Walmart Foundation is helping equip us with the tools we need to continue to provide safe and nutritious food for more people.”

AIB International is the leading organization protecting the safety of the food supply chain and delivering quality technical and educational programs in the food safety industry. The organization provides the Feeding America network of member food banks with food industry standards that include best practices and legal requirements. Ultimately, ensuring and making ongoing improvements to safe food storage capabilities enables food banks to secure and distribute more food to more agencies, pantries and meal programs that serve people in need.

With food insecurity remaining high throughout the country, the ability to safely distribute more food is critical for food banks. According to the USDA, about 49 million people — including 16 million children — in the United States are food insecure, which means at some point during the year they don’t know where their next meal will come from. In West Michigan and the Upper Peninsula, 1 in 7 residents is food insecure.

Through their longstanding commitment to fighting hunger, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation provide donations of both food and funds to Feeding America and its nationwide network of 200 food banks. Walmart and the Walmart Foundation has set goals to provide four billion meals to those in need in the U.S. through 2020.

About Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank. Serving local families in need since 1981, Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank reclaims safe surplus food from farmers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers. We distribute that food through a network of more than 1,100 food pantries, youth programs, and other hunger-relief agencies in 40 counties from the Indiana border through the Upper Peninsula. Each year, an estimated 492,100 people receive food from Feeding America West Michigan. For more information, visit FeedingAmericaWestMichigan.org.

Terra GR teams up with Food Bank to fight hunger during Restaurant Week

Grand Rapids' favorite farm-to-table restaurant is offering diners a chance to sample West Michigan's best locally sourced food while sending meals to their neighbors in need.

Grand Rapids’ favorite farm-to-table restaurant is offering diners a chance to sample West Michigan’s best locally sourced food while sending meals to their neighbors in need.

Grand Rapids, Michigan — July 30, 2015 — Grand Rapids is a city that appreciates a good meal. But what about those in our community who don’t have enough to eat, period?

Terra GR Restaurant hasn’t forgotten about them, and even as the Eastown restaurant showcases their finest locally sourced creations during Restaurant Week 2015, they’re going to be sending meals to their neighbors in need. For every Restaurant Week special they sell between August 12 and 23, they’ll donate four meals to Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank. Guests will have the opportunity to make their own donation as well.

Staff from Terra GR Restaurant pick cherries for Feeding America West Michigan, July 17, 2015.

Staff from Terra GR Restaurant pick cherries for Feeding America West Michigan, July 17, 2015.

“With our participation with Grand Rapids Restaurant Week and celebrating the outstanding food culture in Grand Rapids, we would like to also take the opportunity to raise awareness and assist those in our community that are food insecure,” said general manager Chris McDonald.

Terra GR has been a long-time advocate for local hunger relief, hosting fundraising events for Feeding America West Michigan and Kids’ Food Basket for years. This month, a few members of their team even helped Feeding America West Michigan pick 880 pounds of cherries at Rasch Cherries in Conklin.

“We’re grateful not only for the meals Terra’s donation will provide, but also for the visibility they’re bringing to the issue of local hunger,” said Andrew Steiner of Feeding America West Michigan. According to the organization, food insecurity continues to affect 1 in 7 people in West Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.

During Restaurant Week, Terra will feature a three-course meal for $28 with an optional beer and wine pairing. The menu will include smoked salmon rillette, charred peach and arugula salad dressed with a preserved lemon vinaigrette and duck confit.

Terra GR is located at 1429 Lake Drive SE.

About Terra GR. Inspired, handcrafted foods that nurture both body and community. At Terra, we follow our passions — and the seasons — for only the freshest, health-filled ingredients from the region’s most dedicated growers. Terra is located at 1429 Lake Drive SE in Grand Rapids, Michigan. For more information, visit TerraGR.com.

About Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank. Serving local families in need since 1981, Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank reclaims safe surplus food from farmers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers. We distribute that food through a network of more than 1,100 food pantries, youth programs and other hunger-relief agencies in 40 counties from the Indiana border through the Upper Peninsula. Each year, an estimated 492,100 people receive food from Feeding America West Michigan. For more information, visit FeedingAmericaWestMichigan.org.

Food Bank Farm returns for second season

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Food sourcing specialist Katie Auwers checks the progress of our first section of sweet corn.

Food sourcing specialist Katie Auwers checks the progress of our first section of sweet corn.

Two years ago, Feeding America West Michigan tried something new. We decided to grow our own produce: three acres of sweet corn at Eastmanville Farm in Ottawa County. The results: more than 17,000 pounds of homegrown food for our neighbors in need. We’re pleased to say that after a one-year, weather-related hiatus, the Food Bank Farm is returning for a second season.

Farmer Matt Hehl, board member of the West Michigan Agricultural Education Center, which owns the farm and is allowing us to use the land rent-free, did three separate plantings between June 12 and the Fourth of July weekend. As you can see from our photos, the first section is coming in strong.

We expect to be pulling the first ears around Labor Day, and we’ll need a lot of help. If you’re interested in being part of the harvest, sign up online. If you’ve got a big group that would like to help out, contact our volunteer coordinator, Dena Rogers: denar@feedingamericawestmichigan.org.

As with all things agricultural, the weather will determine our harvest dates. But if you sign up or contact Dena, we’ll be sure to let you know when it’s happening. In the meantime, consider supporting our mission to solve hunger by donating online.

Now get out there and enjoy this beautiful West Michigan summer!

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Michigan Milk Producers Association joins effort to solve hunger

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Comstock Park, Michigan — June 29, 2015 — That gallon of milk you consider a staple in your refrigerator is missing from the homes of many of Michigan’s most vulnerable.

And despite being one of the most frequently requested items at food pantries, it’s often hard for hunger-relief organizations to come by. In fact, food bank clients receive the equivalent of less than one gallon of milk per year. Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA), a member-owned-and-operated dairy cooperative, is doing its part to change that in our state.

The MMPA's milk donation is being coordinated by the Food Bank Council of Michigan.

The MMPA’s milk donation is being coordinated by the Food Bank Council of Michigan.

On July 24, MMPA donated more than 22,700 gallons of milk to Michigan’s food banks, including 5,162 gallons of milk to Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank, in the hopes of providing Michiganders the nutritional benefits of local, natural milk.

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“Our dairy farmer owners are happy to make this donation to the children, seniors and families struggling with hunger in our local communities,” MMPA president and dairy farmer Ken Nobis said. “We’ve been a Michigan company for nearly 100 years, and we’re proud to continue our cooperative’s tradition of giving back. What better way to serve those struggling with hunger than the healthy, natural, nutrient powerhouse that is milk?”

In total, MMPA donated 200,000 pounds of milk to the Food Bank Council of Michigan, processed at cost by Prairie Farms Dairy Inc. The resulting 22,700 gallons of 2 percent white milk are being distributed to food banks serving all 83 Michigan counties.

Hunger has no boundaries and is a problem that exists in urban, suburban and rural communities. It affects one in seven people in West Michigan and the Upper Peninsula, including nearly 114,000 children who do not have access to adequate nourishment to help them reach their full potential. But Feeding America West Michigan believes the solution lies in collaboration between nonprofits, food producers and generous individuals who give to support the effort.

“We want to recognize the Milk Producers for their generosity,” said Feeding America West Michigan CEO Ken Estelle. “This is exactly the kind of partnership that will allow us to solve hunger in our region.”

About the Food Bank Council of Michigan. Founded in 1984, the Food Bank Council of Michigan (FBCM) provides statewide leadership to food banks in their efforts to alleviate hunger. FBCM works with its seven regional food banks and over 3,000 hunger relief agencies, private companies, farmers, state and federal officials and other allies to make sure Michiganders do not go without food. For more information about the Food Bank Council of Michigan, visit fbcmich.org or call 517-485-1202.

About Michigan Milk Producers Association. Michigan Milk Producers Association, established in 1916, is a member owned and operated dairy cooperative serving approximately 2,000 dairy farmers in Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin and Ohio. Each year, MMPA’s dairy farm families produce over half a billion gallons of milk for families in Michigan, the U.S. and the world. For more information about Michigan Milk Producers Association, visit mimilk.com or call 248-474-6672.

About Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank. Serving local families in need since 1981, Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank reclaims safe surplus food from farmers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers. We distribute that food through a network of more than 1,100 food pantries, youth programs, and other hunger-relief agencies in 40 counties from the Indiana border through the Upper Peninsula. Each year, an estimated 492,100 people receive food from Feeding America West Michigan. For more information, visit FeedingAmericaWestMichigan.org.