Food Bank Farm returns for second season

Barn and Van Horizontal

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!

Corn Closeup from Top

Michigan Milk Producers Association joins effort to solve hunger

MMPA Logo

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.

    Download the Press Release

“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.

Feeding America West Michigan’s luncheon raises $59,000 for hunger relief

Food Bank CEO Ken Estelle, client Michele Childs, Catherine Behrendt of WZZM 13, Barb Nauta of Streams of Hope and other guests pose for a photo following the program.

Food Bank CEO Ken Estelle, client Michele Childs, Catherine Behrendt of WZZM 13, Barb Nauta of Streams of Hope and other guests pose for a photo following the program.

WZZM 13's Catherine Behrendt helped the Food Bank honor its community partners and raise money to support its ongoing mission.

WZZM 13’s Catherine Behrendt helped the Food Bank honor its community partners and raise money to support its ongoing mission.

Comstock Park, Michigan — June 10, 2015 — On June 9, one charity luncheon turned into nearly a quarter million meals for local people in need. Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank’s Many Hands Against Hunger summer luncheon raised $59,000 to support the organization’s food distribution efforts in West Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.

    Download the Press Release

Hosted by WZZM 13’s Catherine Behrendt, Many Hands Against Hunger highlighted the efforts of four community partners: food donor Kellogg Company, financial supporters Tom and Megan Nelis, hunger-relief agency Love INC of Newaygo County and longtime volunteer Carole Griffeth. The event was held at Noto’s Old World Italian Dining in Grand Rapids and drew nearly 300 guests.

The program closed with the personal testimony of Michele Childs, a client of Feeding America West Michigan’s agency Streams of Hope. By providing nutritious food from the Food Bank along with mentoring and exercise classes, Streams of Hope helped Childs recover her health and self-confidence following bariatric surgery.

Those who weren’t able to attend the event but want to support the organization’s mission can give online at FeedingAmericaWestMichigan.org.

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 invites community to lunch on June 9

Awards designed by Reb Roberts will be given to four of Feeding America West Michigan's community partners at Many Hands Against Hunger on June 9.

Awards designed by Reb Roberts will be given to four of Feeding America West Michigan’s community partners at Many Hands Against Hunger on June 9.

Comstock Park, Michigan — May 27, 2015 — Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank is inviting the community to lunch. The Many Hands Against Hunger summer luncheon will be held at Noto’s Old World Italian Dining in Grand Rapids on Tuesday, June 9.

    Download the Press Release

Hosted by WZZM 13’s Catherine Behrendt, the fundraising event will be both a celebration of the past year’s accomplishments and a chance to advance the Food Bank’s mission to solve hunger even further.

“There’s a lot to celebrate, and also a lot of work left to do,” said Ken Estelle, Feeding America West Michigan’s CEO. “Our message is that solving hunger is possible if we work together.”

During the program, four hunger-relief partners will be recognized for their contributions to the mission: volunteer Carole Griffeth, financial supporters Tom and Megan Nelis, major food donor Kellogg Company and hunger-relief partner agency Love INC Newaygo. The program will also feature a personal story from Food Bank client Michele Childs.

Food Bank client Michele Childs will share her personal story.

Food Bank client Michele Childs will share her personal story.

Once diabetic and obese, Childs was able to get her disease and her weight under control with help from Streams of Hope, one of Feeding America West Michigan’s partner agencies. (Watch Childs’ story on Feeding America West Michigan’s website.)

Childs admits that she felt some shame about visiting a food pantry initially, but that the staff at Streams of Hope made her feel welcome and played a large role in her transformation. “There was no judgment. It’s important to know that these food pantries are here for you,” she said.

Many Hands Against Hunger will conclude with an opportunity for guests to donate to Feeding America West Michigan. Funds raised will support the organization’s distribution of food to more than 1,100 food pantries, youth programs and other hunger-relief agencies across 40 Michigan counties.

“There’s more than enough food to meet the need,” Estelle said. “With the financial support of our community, we know this problem can be solved.”

Many Hands Against Hunger runs from 12 to 1:15 p.m. on Tuesday, June 9. To register, visit FeedingAmericaWestMichigan.org/Luncheon.

Many Hands Against Hunger is underwritten by Meijer and National Food Group with support from Independent Bank, Star Truck Rentals, and Chris Stoffel Overvoorde. Additional funding provided by Louis Padnos Iron & Metal Company, Amway, Berends Hendricks Stuit, Cascade Engineering, CHASE, Country Fresh, Food Bank Council of Michigan, HermanMiller Cares, Kellogg Company, Kinetix, Mercy Health, MLive Media Group, Molina Healthcare, Old National Bank, Sysco Foods, Value-Added Food Sales, Warner Norcross & Judd, Will Play For Food Foundation, Allegra GR, Comstock Park High School, Extreme Transportation, FoodCircles, Forest Hills Foods, Kennedy’s Flowers and Gifts, Pace Trailer, PAR Logistics, and Riveridge Produce Marketing.

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.