Two trucks, four tons from Meijer


In late December, Meijer began donating products from their West Michigan stores to the Food Bank. Week by week, more stores participated in the program. By the end of January, Feeding America West Michigan had picked up more than 8,800 pounds of good food that previously would have gone to the dumpster.

The Food Bank is now collecting items from about half of the Meijer stores in West Michigan and has plans to expand to the rest of the 28 stores in the region.

In January, Meijer donated two truck tractors to add to our fleet. This is the second year that the retailer has donated reconditioned vehicles to us. In the past year, the company donated more than 18 tractors to food banks and educational institutions throughout the Midwest.

“We will be using the restored tractors for picking up food donations, as well as food delivery within our 40-county service area, which includes the Upper Peninsula, and the west side of the state down to St. Joseph,” said Tim Johnson, a Food Bank driver. “Having access to this refurbished equipment helps us to serve the many hungry families in West Michigan.”

Meijer is also working with Feeding America food banks in other states, and eventually plans to have food rescue in all 197 of their stores throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky.

Helping fight hunger has been a primary focus of Meijer for many years. They support the communities where their customers and team members work and live. The company annually donates millions of pounds of food to local food banks and pantries, and has generated more than $2.3 million in donations to local food banks through its Simply Give program.

Feats of Clay: Fired up Against Hunger

“Service Learning.” Loosely translated, it means combining good works with classroom lessons. And it’s a big deal at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, where Anna Greidanus, Professor of Art, teaches Ceramics.

For the third straight year, her students have exemplified service learning by selling their ceramic creations to raise money for Feeding America West Michigan. Most recently, they raised $1,000 in two 2011 holiday sales – enough to provide $10,000 worth of groceries to hungry West Michigan families.

The funds were raised at two campus events: the Calvin Visual Arts Guild show, attended almost exclusively by art students, and the larger Fair Trade Fair, which featured vendors from around the world. The latter event was the first time students sold to a college-wide audience. According to Anna, the sale’s success was “positive reinforcement for their work and their cause.”

In class, as her students study and make bowls, cups and plates, Anna encourages them to consider what the pieces are used for. “Although I teach ceramics as sculpture, I also emphasize the utilitarian nature and history of clay forms. I use vessels as a vehicle to get students thinking about food.”

Calvin students are thinking a lot about food these days, she says. Generally, today’s students are “more thoughtful than ever about their diets, and also about food production and distribution, worldwide and here in the U.S.”

Her students seem to grasp the relationship between food distribution and hunger “right here in Grand Rapids, where they can see homeless people lining up outside soup kitchens every day.”

By raising money for the Food Bank, ceramics students help ensure that food distribution doesn’t bypass their poorest neighbors. They also help students and faculty understand the prevalence of hunger here in West Michigan – and the most effective way to combat it.

Both the fund-raising and the heightened awareness “integrate meaningfully into a holistic learning experience,” Anna points out. In other words, supporting the Food Bank helps put the “service” into “service learning.”