About Feeding America West Michigan


map showing Feeding America West Michigan's six branches/partners

Overview

Feeding America West Michigan is one of 200 food banks in Feeding America’s nationwide network. It is one of seven Feeding America member food banks located in Michigan. Feeding America West Michigan serves 40 of Michigan’s 83 counties. Its service area spans from the Indiana border north through the western half of the state and extends throughout the entire Upper Peninsula.

Mission

To gather and distribute food to relieve hunger and increase food security in West Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.

Vison

A community in which all neighbors are nourished and empowered within an equitable food system.

History

The organization was founded on April 23, 1981 as Gleaners Food Bank of West Michigan, Inc. During its early years, the food bank distributed 8,000 pounds of food per month out of a small rented space in southwest Grand Rapids. Since that time, the organization has moved to its main warehouse in Comstock Park and has added two branches, one in Cadillac and the other in Benton Harbor. The food bank has grown into an organization that distributes millions of pounds of food each year through its partnerships with more than 900 agencies and three distribution organizations including Manna Food Project, Food Rescue and the Western Upper Peninsula Food Bank. In 2018, Feeding America West Michigan distributed 25.1 million pounds of food – equivalent to 21 million meals.

How it works

Feeding America West Michigan doesn’t directly serve community members. The food bank exists to provide food for its partner agencies and distribution organizations that then directly serve their communities. A food bank is essentially the hub from which hunger-relief efforts stem. Food is also distributed through the food bank’s Mobile Food Pantry program.

In order to provide food for the hunger-relief agencies that need it, the food bank rescues, sorts, repackages, stores and distributes surplus food from hundreds of generous farmers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers. Excess food exists for various reasons and can be found at any point in the food system supply chain. Some of these reasons include: bumper crops, package misprints, transportation issues, imperfect aesthetics and over-ordering. Without food banks diverting this good food to people in need, it would instead end up in landfills.

Roughly one-third of the food Feeding America West Michigan distributes is fresh produce. The rest of the food is made up of meat, dairy, baked, frozen and non-perishable goods . If you work in the food or agriculture industries and are curious about donating your surplus product, contact Mallory Weber at MalloryW@feedwm.org to learn more. For every dollar donated, the food bank can provide 4 meals for people in need.