2018 brought both success and growth for Feeding America West Michigan. We successfully upheld our mission by distributing 25.1 million pounds of food to our 900+ partner agencies, who then served 21 million meals to those struggling with hunger in our 40-county service area. But in the face of an ever-changing food environment, we were also challenged to grow.
One challenge we encountered was fewer food donations, due in part to more efficient food labeling and ordering practices. Each year, our food donors find themselves with less excess food to donate and therefore, less food is ending up on the food bank’s shelves. In 2016, we received nearly 30 million pounds of donated food, while in 2018 we received just under 27 million pounds.
Since the need for our services remains, we’re seeking unique solutions to this challenge, such as compensating farmers to reclaim end-of-season crops that would otherwise go unharvested. By allocating funds toward food purchasing, we are presented with an opportunity procure more fresh, healthy food. In addition, we hope to empower our neighbors to nourish themselves by providing nutrition information and recipe ideas at various Mobile Food Pantries through our “Fresh Start” program.
These modifications to our processes prompted us to reflect on past changes. We are very pleased to see that the decision to change our Upper Peninsula distribution process elicited a positive outcome. By moving to a depot delivery model, and by utilizing the Mobile Pantry Program, we were able to increase the amount of food provided to our U.P. neighbors by over 50 percent!
We’re proud of this improvement, but are continually seeking solutions that will bring food to rural communities like those found in the Upper Peninsula. Stories like Frederick’s (shared in this newsletter) illustrate just how necessary our resources are in rural places where food insecurity rates can soar to over 16 percent. In response, we joined a new advisory committee, put together by the Feeding America National Organization, focused on ending hunger in America’s most rural communities.
Thanks to the combined efforts of our partner agencies, volunteers, staff and generous donors, Feeding America West Michigan can continue to provide solutions that will bring healthy options and, ultimately, end hunger in West Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.
Learn more about 2018 in our Annual Report.