Grand Rapids Letter Carriers hope to collect 70,000 lbs of food during Stamp Out Hunger 2016

Feeding America West Michigan staff members Ryan VanMaldegen and Katie Auwers unpack Stamp Out Hunger donations at the Eastown Post Office branch, May 2015. Credit: Feeding America West Michigan

Feeding America West Michigan staff members Ryan VanMaldegen and Katie Auwers unpack Stamp Out Hunger donations at the Eastown Post Office branch, May 2015. Credit: Feeding America West Michigan

Family Circus Food Drive 2016 RGB - revised - Copy

Grand Rapids, Michigan — May 4, 2016 — On Saturday, May 14, the Grand Rapids letter carriers will once again take part in the nationwide Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive. Their goal: to collect 70,000 pounds of food, a roughly 10 percent increase from last year. (Download the Press Release)

On May 14, letter carriers around the country will be going door to door collecting food for local hunger-relief charities. In Grand Rapids, that food will be donated to Feeding America West Michigan.

“This is one of the oldest and most fruitful partnerships we have,” said CEO Ken Estelle. “We’re honored that they’ve chosen to support us again this year.”

“People need to understand the amount of effort the letter carriers put into making this happen. Many of them have to make three or four runs to collect all the food on their routes. It really is an incredible amount of food,” Estelle said.

Letter carrier Andrea Faulkner is coordinating the food drive in Grand Rapids. Faulkner says she finds the event personally meaningful. “I just think it’s a great opportunity to help those who are less fortunate. I love the idea that Feeding America West Michigan is so broad-based. They provide food to agencies that serve wounded vets, low-income kids, domestic violence victims — so when you’re supporting the food bank, you’re helping all these other organizations fulfill their core missions as well.”

Those wishing to participate in Stamp Out Hunger have two options. They can fill a bag with healthy, nonperishable food and leave it by their mailboxes in time for their normal Saturday delivery. Or they can give a meal online at FeedWM.org/StampOutHunger. Every dollar donated provides four meals to those in need.

As a reminder to give, Meijer is providing paper grocery bags to most free-standing residences in Grand Rapids. All Grand Rapids residents will also receive an informational postcard the week of the food drive.

Local sponsors include Fox 17, Meijer, Heart of West Michigan United Way, the Kent-Ionia Labor Council and the National Association of Letter Carriers.

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About Feeding America West Michigan. Serving local families in need since 1981, Feeding America West Michigan 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 FeedWM.org.

Mobile Pantries to Provide 115,000 Meals in Upper Peninsula This May

Sharon Hovie and Emily Higbee of the Sault Tribe Elder Meal Program unload food at an April 12 distribution.

Sharon Hovie and Emily Higbee of the Sault Tribe Elder Meal Program unload food at an April 12 distribution.

Comstock Park, Michigan — April 26, 2016 — Next month, Feeding America West Michigan plans to distribute 137,500 pounds of food in the Upper Peninsula through its Mobile Food Pantry program. The food will provide the equivalent of 115,000 meals. (Download the Press Release)

With nine distributions, May 2016 is the busiest month to date for the Mobile Pantry program in the Upper Peninsula. For comparison, just three Mobile Pantry distributions took place last May.

Feeding America West Michigan’s Mobile Pantries are intended for people with difficulty accessing enough food for themselves or their families. While no proof of income is required at the distributions, clients will be asked to sign a statement affirming that they are in need.

Mobile Pantry Dates for May 2016

May 4
Webster Elementary School, Escanaba, 1:30 p.m.

May 5
Schoolcraft County Fairgrounds, Good Neighbor Services, Manistique, 10 a.m.
VFW Post #4573, Ishpeming, 10 a.m.

May 6
Norway Community Food Pantry, Norway, 5 p.m.
St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Garden, 10 a.m.

May 12
Community Center, Hannahville Indian Community, 11 a.m.

May 25
Negaunee High School, Negaunee, 4:30 p.m.
Upper Peninsula State Fairgrounds, Escanaba, 10 a.m.

May 26
St. Ignace United Methodist Church, St. Ignace, 11 a.m.

Note: All times EST.

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About Feeding America West Michigan. Serving local families in need since 1981, Feeding America West Michigan 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 FeedWM.org.

DEQ Grant Will Help Provide Nutritious Food to Flint Residents

On April 21, volunteers break up and bag the first load of frozen diced sweet potatoes donated by Arbre Farms.

On April 21, volunteers break up and bag the first load of frozen diced sweet potatoes donated by Arbre Farms.

State of Michigan Press Release

Flint, Mich. — April 21, 2016 — Providing healthy food for Michigan residents and helping to reduce food waste is the goal of the quarter of a million dollars in Community Pollution Prevention grants announced today by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

“The right partnerships and planning can turn food that would have been wasted into healthy meals,” said DEQ Director Keith Creagh. “The DEQ is proud to award grants to these organizations so they can provide nutritious food for people in Flint and across Michigan.”

One of the grant winners, Feeding America West Michigan, will partner with the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan and Arbre Farms of Walkerville to provide and distribute up to 2 million pounds of frozen vegetables per year to families in need. Because the vegetables contain high levels of nutrients beneficial to those who have been exposed to lead, half of the vegetables will be sent to the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, based in Flint.

Staff from Feeding America West Michigan and the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan pictured with first Arbre Farms donation, April 21.

Staff from Feeding America West Michigan and the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan pictured with first Arbre Farms donation, April 21.

The DEQ is awarding $100,000 to Feeding America West Michigan to cover start-up costs associated with the frozen vegetable “rescue” program. Currently, according to strict manufacturing guidelines, vegetables that are too big or small, the wrong color or shape — but are still safe and healthy to eat — are disposed of. As part of this project, these vegetables will be “rescued” by being frozen, packaged and distributed by the two food banks to people in need across 62 Michigan counties.

The FDA recommends that adults eat at least four and a half cups of fruits and vegetables every day. There are populations of people across Michigan that have unreliable access to or difficulty obtaining even small amounts of these healthy foods. That’s where the DEQ’s grants that total $241,800 come in.

“Our goal is to provide safe, healthy food to people in Michigan,” said Ken Estelle, CEO of Feeding America West Michigan. “This project will provide nutrient-dense vegetables to almost 1 million people across the state and could be expanded to other fruit and vegetable producers and processors in Michigan.”

Feeding America West Michigan is a food bank located in Comstock Park which serves families in 40 counties in West Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. Last year, it distributed almost 28 million pounds of food — equivalent to 22 million meals — to nearly 500,000 people. Feeding America West Michigan is partnering with Food Bank of Eastern Michigan to distribute vegetables to Flint residents.

“This project will be a powerful tool in addressing the effects of lead exposure by Flint residents,” said William Kerr, President and CEO of the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan. The Food Bank of Eastern Michigan has served as the primary hub for the donation and distribution of water to Flint residents during the water crisis and provides over 25 million pounds of food each year to residents in 22 counties.

“These vegetables will be distributed through the mobile nutrition pantries, which have been set up in partnership with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services,” said Kerr. The nutrition pantries are being paid for in part by a $28 million appropriations bill passed by state lawmakers and signed by Gov. Rick Snyder in January.

“Carrots, peas, squash and other vegetables from our farms will provide beneficial nutrition to children and families,” said Dylan Marks, President of Abre Farms. Foods rich in calcium, vitamin C and iron allow the body to fight lead absorption, and foods high in vitamin C also help increase the amount of iron in the blood. The vegetables that will be distributed have high amounts of these nutrients.

Arbre Farms, located in Walkerville, produces more than 15 locally grown vegetables and fruits for sale to food manufacturers and distributors. It produces 50,000 tons of finished product annually and uses state-of-the-art manufacturing and distribution infrastructure.

Over $300,000 has been raised locally to support the grant. Feeding America West Michigan will also host a food sourcing and operations conference and present the project as a model program for other food banks and producers.

DEQ’s Community Pollution Prevention Grant Program seeks to bring local government, businesses, planning agencies, and residents together to achieve measurable waste reductions using innovative sustainable practices. Grants are awarded to projects that will reduce waste at the source, feed people or animals, or can be used for industrial or composting purposes. The grant funds come from interest on unclaimed bottle deposits and settlements from environmental cases.

Other organizations receiving 2016 grant awards include:
• Delta Institute was granted $91,150 for a public-private partnership between the City of Lansing, Hammond Farms Landscape Supply, and Live Green Lansing to compost food scraps from local restaurants.
• Wayne County Airport Authority was granted $45,650 to rescue food from airport concessionaires and deliver via Bradford Logistics to Gleaners Community Food Bank for distribution in the Metro Detroit area.
• Love INC Tri-Cities was granted $5,000 to distribute food collected from restaurants, growers and grocers to local community members in need.

To learn more about the Community Pollution Prevention Grants Program, call the DEQ’s Environmental Assistance Center at 800-662-9278 or visit michigan.gov/deqp2grants.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality promotes wise management of Michigan’s air, land, and water resources to support a sustainable environment, healthy communities, and vibrant economy. Learn more at michigan.gov/deq.

For more information:
Debra Swartz, 517-284-6903, swartzd@michigan.gov
Mel Brown, 517-284-6713

Contrary to What You’ve Heard, Food Stamp Spending is Declining

4-21-16 Food For Thought

April 21, 2016 — It’s a common political talking point: More people are on food stamps (SNAP) than ever before. The implication is that government spending on food assistance is out of control.

While it’s true that the Great Recession pushed millions of Americans into financial desperation and onto food assistance programs, the latest numbers show that SNAP spending is now declining. In fact, it fell 3% in the first half of this fiscal year.

“When adjusted for food price inflation, SNAP spending in the first half of this fiscal year was the lowest since 2009,” writes Dottie Rosenbaum of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The reason is simple: When more Americans are in financial need, SNAP use grows. When fewer Americans are in need, it shrinks.

Read more about how SNAP spending is changing as the economy improves.