Food Bank hopes campaign will provide more than 4 million meals

FLINT — The Food Bank of Eastern Michigan hopes this year’s holiday campaign will raise $745,000, or enough to provide over 4.4 million meals to residents of the 22 eastern Michigan counties the organization serves.

The campaign was announced on Nov. 25, prior to Thanksgiving, and included recognition for the Food Bank’s partners and initiatives.

“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.”

Dick Skaff, President and CEO of Skaff Furniture & Carpet, spoke on behalf of businesses who support the Food Bank, noting that in addition to programs like Skaff’s annual Save and Share program, he also volunteers at the Food Bank with members of his staff and with his church.

“The Food Bank does an excellent job feeding the hungry,” Skaff said. “If you haven’t been here volunteering to sort food, it’s a lot of fun. It is good team bonding for our employees.”

Craig Leavitt, Executive Director of Crossover Downtown Outreach Ministries, spoke on behalf of Hunger Relief Partners about what the relationship with the Food Bank means to them. Crossover is open five days per week and is supported by four local churches: Riverside Tabernacle, St. Paul Episcopal, Court Street United Methodist, and First Presbyterian Church of Flint. They distribute food, clothing, and personal goods to people in need.

“We are literally an extension of the Food Bank,” Leavitt said. “We could not get done what we do without the Food Bank.”

This year, the Food Bank also announced a new food rescue program that it began piloting in the fall. Participating restaurants, including Little Caesars locations throughout Genesee County, donate prepared food that is immediately picked up by volunteer drivers and transported to agencies in the area that can serve it to people in need. The program is one of many ways volunteers help the Food Bank provide nearly 30 million pounds of food each year to the counties it serves.

“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.”

Over the past 23 years, the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan’s holiday fundraising campaigns have raised more $12 million to fight hunger. The goal this holiday season is to distribute 5,500 holiday food boxes to families for Thanksgiving and Christmas. — G.G.