Statewide food drive benefits west Michigan residents
Organizers of statewide food drive Michigan Harvest Gathering stopped in several Michigan cities this week to celebrate 25 years of operations.
That included a stop Thursday in Comstock Park to discuss food insecurity in west Michigan.
Ken Estelle is the CEO of Feeding America West Michigan.
“Hunger in West Michigan is not going away," Estelle says. “We’re seeing more and more food actually going into pantries in West Michigan right now."
"So the message I have for folks is what you hear in the media with unemployment getting better, housing getting better, stock market doing OK - what we’re seeing in our community is that more and more people are still struggling with putting food on the table on a regular basis.”
Estelle says meeting this basic need is essential when we talk about larger issues of equity.
He says when you don’t have enough to feed your family, tackling that issue becomes the most important.
“So what we want to do – get the food on the table, make sure they have enough to eat," Estelle says. "And then let’s help them partner with organizations that can find the right housing. Find education. Help them with their job. And then that way we’ll get people out of the cycle of need.”
Now-Attorney General Bill Schuette says that’s part of why he and his wife Cynthia Schuette started the Michigan Harvest Gathering in 1990.
“And since that time it’s had staying power. We’ve been able to raise $10 million and 10 million pounds of food," he says. "It really is about helping a neighbor, it’s providing a hand to somebody who’s maybe down on their luck, but it’s all about providing hope.”
The food drive and fundraiser annually benefits Feeding America West Michigan as well as local food pantries across the state.