FLINT, Michigan — The Food Bank of Eastern Michigan hopes to raise $725,000 — enough to give 4.3 million meals to area residents — during its annual holiday campaign.
“During the holiday season, we enjoy time with family and friends, often gathered around large meals,” said Kara Ross, president and CEO of the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan. “The reality for many is much different: One in six families in our region struggles to put food on the table. We are grateful for our supporters and partners who make our holiday campaign successful each year and allow us to help families in need throughout our region.”
This year, 75 community groups, service clubs, and small businesses have pledged to host events to raise funds and collect food during the holiday season. One of the new partners this year is Qualified Staffing, which is celebrating 30 years in business. Instead of an open house or party, the business opted to celebrate by joining the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan holiday campaign.
“Over the past 30 years our business has really been about helping people,” said Qualified Staffing Marketing and Social Manager Chris Pagen. “What better way to commemorate an anniversary milestone than to help more people.”
Qualified Staffing is donating 30,000 meals to the Food Bank in honor of its 30th anniversary.
Longtime Food Bank partner Kroger also announced a new program in its efforts to combat hunger in Flint and throughout Michigan, which is one of the most food insecure states in the country.
Throughout the year, Kroger offers a checkout option where a customer can round-up a bill to the nearest dollar, with all proceeds going to local food bank partners. The store also announced a new campaign titled “From Hearts to Homes.”
“It’s essentially the same as the Food Bank ornaments,” explained Rachel Hurst, Corporate Affairs Manager for Kroger Company of Michigan. “There is a one-, five- or 10-dollar option at all stores and, again, 100 percent of proceeds go right back to the food bank to feed families in Flint.”
Aside from monetary donations, Kroger launched the Zero Hunger Zero Waste campaign in September 2017 and has already donated 5.3 million pounds of food that would have otherwise been thrown away to the six local food bank partners throughout Michigan.
“It is our aggressive goal to end hunger in our communities by 2025 and to eliminate waste in our stores by 2020,” Hurst said.
Of course, while partnerships and community fundraising to assist the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan are imperative, all would be for naught without the help of volunteers.
On #GivingTuesday 2018, the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan partnered with United Way of Genesee County for a service project. The volunteers assisted in sorting the food in preparation for distribution in the new volunteer center that has a work area three times the size of the older center.
“Every year, individuals and organizations contribute thousands of volunteer hours to the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan,” Ross said. “We have a massive operation to sort incoming food, package it, and prepare it for distribution to the 22 counties we serve. Our passionate and committed volunteers are vital to our ability to serve our agencies and families.”
During the past 22 years, the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan’s holiday fundraising campaigns have raised more than $11 million, assisting more than 351,000 individuals at 415 agencies in 22 counties. The goal for this year’s holiday season is to distribute 5,500 food boxes to families.
For more information, visit the food bank’s website at www.fbem.org.