A day of service with Food Rescue

In remembrance of Martin Luther King Jr. and his efforts for a more just and peaceful world, FoodCorps (and all of AmeriCorps) dedicates MLK Day as a National Day of Service. On this day, service members across the United States volunteer with an organization of their choice that commemorates the actions of civil rights activists.

Because Mikaela and I are so invested in ensuring food justice, we decided to offer our hands and minds to Food Rescue of Northwest Michigan. With a mission of “collecting and distributing soon-to-expire fresh foods and beverages from available sources (e.g., grocery stores, restaurants, caterers, bakeries, etc.) to people in need through the area’s food pantries, shelters and community meal programs,” Food Rescue is a beacon of hope for families who struggle to put meals on their tables. This food distribution technique ensures that everyone has “the opportunity to eat well-balanced, healthy meals regardless of their circumstances.” Last year, this innovative and inspiring nonprofit rescued over 1.3 million pounds of food, and according to the FDA, one pound of nutritious foods equates to one healthful meal. Just imagine all the happy stomachs.

We planned this Day of Service a couple weeks in advance, nailed down the nitty gritty details the week prior and when Monday rolled around we were ready to serve. What we failed to take in account was Mother Nature and her wintry embrace. Regardless, Mikaela and I arrived at Food Rescue’s home base by 6:30 A.M.  Monday morning. Within no time at all, we were each on a truck, one bound for East TC and one for West TC.

I was lucky enough to nab the East TC route with Taylor of Food Rescue and Bill, a fellow volunteer. Roads were snow-covered, but I quickly learned that those huge trucks are more than capable of maneuvering their way through drifts and sleek conditions. Our conversation revolved around nutritious foods, playing hockey and local architectural designs.

The routes begin with picking up food donations from businesses, such as Big Apple Bagel, Oryana Natural Foods Market, Gordon Food Services, Sams, Toms Food Market, Target, Old Mission Multigrain Bakery, Olsen’s, Munson Medical Center and Maxbauer’s Meat Market, who were willing to donate their soon-to-expire goods. Within hours of loading all of these generous food donations onto the two trucks, the food was unloaded bit by bit and distributed to Partner Agencies, such as Salvation Army, the Father Fred Foundation, Traverse House, Dakoske Hall and Goodwill Inn, free of charge. Following the drop-off, the food is handed out to families of need or prepared for meals.

Unloading fresh and nutritious food products for a local food pantry.

Having the opportunity to volunteer with Food Rescue and all of the great folks involved was an inspirational and educational experience. I hope to lend my time again in the future. If you are interested in becoming a Food Rescue volunteer, they are in need of assistance with the following tasks:

  • Volunteer Truck Riders – Load/Unload/Weigh
  • Letters of support to publications
  • Pick fruit at local orchards during fall harvest season (individuals/groups/clubs)
  • Farm Market Volunteers
  • Seasonal harvesters and fish processors

Call the Food Rescue of Northwest Michigan at (231) 955-7723.

As FoodCorps Service Members, Mikaela and I work closely with children of families who live with food insecurity daily. Many of the students we teach nutrition education to and serve Harvests of the Month in the cafeteria do their grocery shopping at food pantries with their parents. It is vital to ensure that pantries have their shelves stocked with plenty of healthful foods, and Food Rescue is a key contributor to this cause in Northwest Michigan. We were honored to serve with Food Rescue on MLK Day because they do good work for our community and as an email from Taylor reminded me: in order to achieve food security we must be a cohesive and holistic team, working together to ensure families have food to put on their plates. What we do matters.

“I’ll have to send you a picture of the whiteboard we have up tomorrow – but the next morning, I wrote out some FR news titled “What we do matters” and one of my examples was having had the two of you offer to volunteer for Food Rescue. Your time and your position as FoodCorps members carries a significance; your involvement with any nonprofit or group contributes greatly to their mission and bolsters their confidence in knowing that what they do matters.” – Taylor Moore

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Food Rescue’s “What we do matters” whiteboard.