It’s harvest season. The chill of fall is in the air. And a state-wide emergency food program is once again underway to benefit hungry Michigan families.
The Michigan Harvest Gathering is now in its 29th year. Since 1991, former Attorney General Bill Schuette and his wife, Cynthia, have partnered with the Food Bank Council of Michigan to help strengthen the capacity of our state’s emergency food response.
Through donations to this food, fundraising and awareness campaign, Michigan’s private businesses, foundations and nonprofits have provided millions of emergency meals. In its first 28 years, the Michigan Harvest Gathering campaign raised more than 81 million meals. Every dollar donated helps get five meals to those who need them.
Many partnerships make this six-week effort powerful from the Michigan Health and Hospital Association to Consumers Energy, but one of our biggest partners is the office of the Michigan Secretary of State. Now through November 15, 131 Secretary of State offices across Michigan are collecting food donations of non-expired, non perishable items. All food and funds stay in the communities in which they’re donated.
“We have our office values of integrity, accountability, honesty and service and making sure every population knows that ultimately we work for them,” says Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. “That’s the ethos we try to have in our office and make sure that we’re meeting the expectations of the public.”
The Michigan Harvest Gathering is a chance to bring organizations like Gleaners and the Secretary of State’s office together in a special way every year to draw additional attention to the issue of food insecurity in Michigan and make an impact. Food insecurity, in spite of the good economy, is still a huge problem in our state, especially for children. On average, Gleaners distributes 96,000 meals each day including providing nourishing food and nutrition education to 171,000 children a year. There isn’t a school in Michigan that doesn’t have some students who receive free and reduced lunch at school. It’s a problem that touches every community.
The benefit to partnering is that we can reach people who might need our services and who also might be able to help by donating to support our services.
“We have a branch office in every county,” says Secretary Benson. “Our state is beautifully diverse, and the needs of each community are unique. [Michigan Harvest Gathering] is a way of directly serving your neighbors, particularly at this time of year leading into the holidays and the season and giving and service. It’s a way to begin that celebration and really serve your neighbors and ensure that we all have equal access to good food and also quality of life in our community.”
To donate to the Michigan Harvest Gathering, click here. To listen to the Food First Michigan radio show episode on WJR-AM that featured an interview with Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, click here.