ONE IN SIX PEOPLE IN THE METRO DETROIT AREA faces hunger or food insecurity at some point in their lifetime. Food insecurity is defined as the inability to obtain sufficient food for their households. There is a very real, consistent need to provide help to families, ensuring they have enough resources.
“Our food helps some close the gap on what they earn and how much it costs them to live,” said Forgotten Harvest’s Director of Marketing and Communications, Chris Ivey. “For others, we are their main source of food for the family.”
He explained, “Forgotten Harvest is community supported and community focused. Our vision is one where these communities work together to end hunger –creating individual, neighborhood, economic, and environmental health.”
The Oak Park-based non-profit is Metro Detroit’s only food rescue operation and estimated to be one of the largest and most efficient operations in the country, providing more than 41.5 million pounds of food to over 260 partner agencies. Forgotten Harvest is a member of Feeding America, delivering resources to more than 46 million people through food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and other community-based agencies.
“THIS NEED SHOWS NO SIGNS OF DIMINISHING in the foreseeable future,” Ivey said. “The problem is not the lack of food but the ability to get that food to the people before it ends up in a landfill. Forgotten Harvest rescues surplus or ‘ugly’ food that might otherwise go to waste and uses it to feed people who would go hungry without our service. This food is provided free-of-charge to anyone who expresses the need for help.”
Forgotten Harvest’s volunteers come from all over the Detroit area. “As of now, most of our volunteer opportunities are filled up. A lot of people want to help this time of year,” Ivey said. “Our need for volunteers is a year-round challenge for us. Thankfully, we had over 18,000 volunteers last year that provided over 77,000 volunteer hours. Without them our organization simply couldn’t do what we do every day.” He added, “Our volunteer workforce gleans and repacks the rescued food into family-sized portions, and then we are able to distribute that food to Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb County shelters, farmers’ market style food pantries, and agencies throughout the entire 2000 square-mile Metro Detroit area.”
The key is cross-departmental efficiency. Ivey said, “Because of the efforts of our food sourcing, logistics, and volunteer teams we can keep our fleet of 35 trucks on the road six days a week picking up from over 800 food donors such as grocery stores, farms, processors, manufacturers, warehouses, distributors, dairies, restaurants, caterers, entertainment venues, and sports arenas. Our trucks roll out of our warehouse starting at 7:30 A.M. and are not done until after 6 or 7 at night.”
As 2019 approaches, the organization has identified a new goal. Ivey explained, “Our goal moving forward of the Right Food, Right place, Right Quantity, Right Time will set us up for the future to be able to make the biggest impact on the community we serve by creating an enhanced, more sustainable food security network with nutrition food equity.”
The Forgotten Harvest warehouse is open Monday through Friday, 8:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M, and Saturdays 8:00 A.M.-4 P.M. Monetary donations can be made at www.forgottenharvest.org.