Gleaners collects, warehouses, repacks and distributes many millions of pounds of food for more than 550 local partners. These agencies pick up food from Gleaners in convenient amounts for use in serving meals, preparing food packages, and stocking food pantries. Member agencies count on Gleaners as a reliable source of dry food like pasta and cereal, canned food, fresh or frozen meats and produce, even household items like paper towels and cleaning supplies.
Safe and marketable food is donated by farmers, grocery stores, supermarkets, food distributors, and food manufacturers, while some is purchased in truckload quantities at low cost. A portion of the annual total comes from canned food drives organized by community organizations, corporations and individuals. The Food Bank Council of Michigan and the Michigan Department of Agriculture operate programs that provide Michigan-grown fresh and canned foods to food banks throughout the state. Some pantry staples are also provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The food is made available to food banks like Gleaners for many reasons. A small labeling error may keep it from reaching retail markets, or it needs to be immediately distributed if it is close to its sales date. In one instance, Dole had a shipload of pineapples that was ripening too quickly en route from Hawaii. Feeding America arranged for immediate distribution to food banks, saving thousands of pounds of fresh fruit that might have been wasted.
Some food is available as a result of surplus production or because it does not meet corporate testing. Several thousand boxes of a popular breakfast cereal were once rejected by the manufacturer because they contained more than the allowed amount of raisins!
Our Variety Produce Rescue Program with the Detroit Produce Terminal encourages produce wholesalers to donate surplus fresh fruits and vegetables. The program enables Gleaners to offer an important supply of fresh, nutritious produce. Twice a week, we visit the terminal and meet with wholesalers, seeking donations or offering to purchase the food at a discount.
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