A helping hand

Secretary of State branch offices collect nonperishable food for Harvest Gathering

LANSING — Secretary of State Ruth Johnson has announced residents can donate nonperishable food items at local Secretary of State branch offices, continuing a longstanding tradition of giving to families in need.

Speaking on behalf of Secretary Johnson, Department of State chief of staff Mike Senyko helped kick off the 22nd annual Michigan Harvest Gathering campaign at the state Capitol alongside Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, who co-founded Michigan Harvest Gathering, and Kareemah El-Amin, executive director of the Food Bank Council of Michigan.

“Every day, more than 50,000 people pass through the doors of a Secretary of State office,” Senyko said. “This gives us an incredible opportunity to make a difference. Last year we collected more than 12,000 pound of food to help feed Michigan families. We were able to feed a lot of people, and that’s what we plan to do again this year.”

Jamie Clover Adams, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development director; Brian Peters, executive vice president of operations for the Michigan Health & Hospital Association; Karole White, president of the Michigan Association of Broadcasters; and Beth Barker, senior vice president of Greenstone Farm Credit Services also joined in the announcement.

“Since the start of the Michigan Harvest Gathering in 1990, we have been able to provide more than 19 million meals to Michigan residents,” Schuette said. “The need is greater than ever, and we must continue to be vigilant in the fight against hunger. Every donation helps Michigan families by delivering emergency food for hungry citizens.”

The 2012 goal is 300,000 pounds of food and $1 million. In 2011, Michigan Harvest Gathering collected more than 140,000 pounds of food and $531,000.

The Harvest Gathering campaign runs through Oct. 15. However, donated items can be dropped off at any Secretary of State branch office through Nov. 30. People donating items should check the packages to ensure the food donated isn’t past its expiration date.

The campaign is coordinated by the Food Bank Council of Michigan, which supplies the state’s regional food banks through donations of food and money. The regional food banks serve food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters in every Michigan county.

“The Food Bank Council of Michigan is thrilled to see the Secretary of State engaging in the Michigan Harvest Gathering again this year,” said William Long, interim executive director of the Food Bank Council of Michigan. “It is the dedicated support from organizations like the Secretary of State that continue to make Michigan Harvest Gathering a success.”

People are asked to donate food items such as canned meats, dry beans, soups, beef stew, pasta products, peanut butter and tuna. They can also donate baby food or formula, diapers, soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes.

The Food Bank requests donors avoid items in glass, as they often break in transit. Financial donations may be made online at www.feedmichigan.org.

Details: Call 888-SOS-MICH (767-6424). — G.G.

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