This year, we want to take some time to highlight staff members of Feeding America West Michigan. Starting off, we have Susie Dutcher who celebrated her fourth work anniversary this past January!
What do you do at the food bank?
I am the Corporate Partnerships Manager. I work with businesses and corporations in West Michigan and the Upper Peninsula to engage them in our mission. A lot of it comes down to educating them on what we do, who we serve, what we’re about and what our long term goals are. I also get involved with a lot of community events, such as fundraisers. I work on getting our name out there with companies and letting them know how they can get involved.
How did you end up in this role?
After finishing grad school, I worked for eight years in West Michigan which is where my husband is from. Eventually, we moved to Detroit. 20 years later, my husband had an opportunity to come back to West Michigan, so we moved here and I felt like it was time for a change in my career. I thought this Corporate Partnerships job looked really interesting and that it would be a way to give back and get involved with hunger-relief work which I hadn’t been involved with before. I had prior experience in the corporate world and because of that this position made sense for me, plus I liked what Feeding America West Michigan as an organization stood for.
What’s your favorite part about your job?
My favorite part is talking to so many people with different roles within organizations and getting to educate them on our work. I enjoy talking about what food insecurity really is and how it impacts people in our area. Getting to see aha moments where people understand ‘wow that could be me’ and sharing that eye opening perspective with others is so important. Then seeing the progression from when they learn about us, to them volunteering, then maybe doing a food drive, which can then turn into a donation. That’s the fun part for me.
Any standout memories?
I started in January 2019 and it was a really frigid winter. It was suggested to me that I go to a Mobile Food Pantry with one of the truck drivers, so I did on a very freezing day. We drove to Grand Haven in one of the big trucks, and when we arrived I remember seeing people already lined up outside the building when it was under 20 degrees. Some people had winter coats, some did not. I had never seen a Mobile Food Pantry before so it really was an eye opener.
What motivates you to fight hunger?
I believe no one should be without healthy, nutritious food. Everyone has the right to access the food they need; there should always be options available. We live in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, yet we have so much food waste. So, what motivates me is that everyone has the right to food, yet many still don’t have enough. If there’s anything we can do as an organization to continue to make food more accessible, that’s what we should do.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I love anything with the outdoors. I love to fly fish. Hikes up along Lake Michigan are some of my favorites. I also love to play music; I play the piano. I also enjoy reading as well as hanging out with friends and family.