Have questions about the Food Bank? Hope we’ve covered them here. If not, send us an email and we’ll get back to you a.s.a.p. Thanks for your interest!
A: Feeding America West Michigan exists to ensure food is available to the hungry in our community.
A: One in six adults and one in five children need food from the Food Bank. That number may shock you, because you usually can’t tell by looking that people are hungry. With unemployment and underemployment higher than the national average in Michigan, more and more families are running short on food—even some who live in “nice” neighborhoods. Throughout West Michigan, in every county and every community, families are struggling to pay for necessities.
There are two ways to answer that question. First of all, anyone who needs emergency food can get Food Bank food. HOWEVER — and this is the part that confuses some people — the Food Bank itself isn’t set up to handle walk-ins from people in need. We’re actually an industrial network of warehouses and trucks. But we provide the food to 1,300 local food pantries and other hunger-relief organizations serving communities throughout our territory.
A: At any one of the 1,300 food pantries, community groups or other anti-hunger organizations we serve. (Click here for a location near you.)
A: We’re the “hub in the wheel,” surrounded by—and linked to—hundreds of local agencies. We save them the huge cost and effort of seeking surplus food and shipping it safely. We save donors the trouble of answering hundreds of far-flung requests. They know we’ll pick up the food and handle it safely, which protects them from liability.
A: Because the Food Bank meets or exceeds all U.S.D.A., state and food industry standards for how food should be shipped, sorted and stored. We have the refrigeration, other specialized capacity and the staff expertise to do that. We also keep on top of all food recalls and notify the agencies we supply when recalls happen.
A: Well, we don’t charge for food per se, because we don’t have to pay for it. We do have to cover the costs of picking it up and sorting and storing it safely. So many agencies gladly chip in to help offset our direct costs, because they know we’re by far their least expensive, most reliable source of high-quality food. Their contribution, which is assessed as a handling fee, usually amounts to about 1/10 (or less) of the food’s retail value.
A: Because the unexpected happens all the time, everywhere—even in big corporations. Sometimes they over-estimate demand. Sometimes packages are misprinted. Sometimes trucks full of fresh food break down on the way to market. Fortunately, the Food Bank is always ready to swoop in and make use of the products that, for these reasons and others, can’t be sold as intended.
A: No! The food we get is mostly fresh and edible. If it isn’t, we find it during our careful sorting process, then toss it. Only edible food goes to the 1,300 local agencies who depend on us–and the clients who depend on them. (Sometimes packaged goods are sent a short time after their printed expiration dates, but only when there’s still plenty of time before the quality of that particular food declines.)
A: Actually, we encourage people to support ANY organization that fights hunger. But if you’d like to support one that has a huge impact throughout West Michigan, and one that operates with incredible cost-efficiency (providing three meals or more for every dollar), then we’re really an excellent choice. Our financial statements say so. So does the nation’s leading charity rating organization.