Getting food to the homes of families in need across 40 counties is no simple task. That’s why Feeding America West Michigan relies on the generous support of diverse partners to accomplish our mission. This year, we’re taking a deeper look at one of our most essential types of partners — our food donors. These farmers, retailers, manufacturers and “food drivers” help keep our shelves stocked so we can keep meeting the need for charitable food. Every month, we’ll be highlighting one of these amazing food donors who makes our work possible.
Nick McCann co-founded Mission Meats in 2015 wanting to make more than just delicious jerky — he wanted to make a difference. Since the beginning, he and his founding partner have prioritized helping nonprofits. That’s why they donate 10 percent of their profits to charitable causes near and dear to them.
Nick got connected to the food bank when he moved the business from Iowa to Michigan. He’d always hated how much meat was wasted when they cut their jerky sticks to size, so he was excited when he learned he could donate these perfectly good “stick ends” to Feeding America West Michigan!
“I hated the waste of it,” he said. “When I realized I could give them to the food bank, I was like ‘wow, that’s the perfect solution.’”
While Nick loves to eat the “stick ends” at home, they can’t be sold normally. At the food bank, however, they’re put to good use. Once packaged, they’re an ideal snack for our backpack program partners to add to weekend or evening meal bags for kids in need.
Mission Meats also donates perfectly good jerky sticks that are nearing expiration to the food bank, where they’re quickly distributed.
Terri, who runs a Hand2Hand program at Celebration Community Church in Muskegon shared, “The meat sticks are a great protein for the kids. They’re easy for the kids to toss in a pocket and have a healthy snack that does not get smashed. Another bonus is they actually like them!”
Nick’s passion for helping others in part stems from his own experience with food insecurity growing up. During that time, he recalls feeling different and at times ashamed, but as an adult, he’s realized how widespread and normal of a challenge this is. When volunteering in hunger-relief efforts at his church in Lansing, he was surprised by the number of familiar faces he saw come through the line.
“I might not need the food bank now,” he said, “but I have needed it in the past, and I might need it again someday. You never know when you’re going to be the guy or gal having a hard time.”
This resonates with Troy, a Mission Meats staff member, who also grew up receiving help with food.
“Maybe it’s not me that needs help, maybe I’ll never go again to those places to get that help, but there’s plenty of people who do need it, and it’s awesome to contribute something to help them,” he said.
Many customers of Mission Meats love purchasing from them because of their commitment to doing as much good as possible in the world. Beyond fighting hunger, they’re also donating to causes helping those without homes and are aiming to reduce their use of plastic packaging.
“We want to have the best product, but we also want to be good in every single way,” Nick said.
This goodness shows through the donations Mission Meats provides to the food bank and, ultimately, to the kids in need. Thanks to the help of food donors like them, the fight to end hunger can continue across West Michigan and the Upper Peninsula!
Story written by Communication and Marketing Specialist, Juliana Ludema.