In 2019 the Northwest Food Coalition celebrated it’s 25th Anniversary. It began in 1994, organized by the Hunger Action Coalition of Detroit that reached out to 7 groups around the state to assess hunger and poverty in rural Michigan. Today, we are a grassroots coalition of roughly 70 food pantries, emergency meal sites, baby pantries in a six county region: Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Leelanau, Wexford. We are the last food coalition left in Michigan. Our mission is is to empower member food programs by coordinating and creating resources to achieve regional food security
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Farm2Neighbor distribution for December was local squash. Thank you to our wonderful farmers that help us provide fresh fruits and vegetables to our neighbors in need! Donate here to buy more local vegetables for our neighbors northwestmifoodcoalition.org/farm-to-neighbor/ ...
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Highlights from the December member meeting
Val announced that we have a potential new treasurer! Welcome Madonna Williams, a recently retired CPA who has agreed to take over! A vote will be held at the January meeting to finalize! As treasurer, she will serve on the Operating Committee to help us keep our budget and finances in order.
Food Rescue Update by Taylor:
They have a new driver, Orlando Flores. He was a driver last March, and he recently returned. They are very happy to have him back. Food Rescue picked up nearly 136,000 pounds of food last month, which is slightly higher than last year. Having Costco on the route has really increased the amount of food received. They re-packed $2,000 lbs. of food last month and are on their way (about 75%) to reaching their goal of 30,000 lbs. by March.
They have a freezer full of Jimmy Dean sausage links available, if anyone needs more. Traverse Cold Storage on Cass Road in Traverse City has donated freezer space to Food Rescue, which really helps out.
Food Rescue plans to re-pack the sausage links into 3 lb. packages, so that pantries can distribute them easily.
Reminder: Food Rescue will be closed from Tuesday 12/24/2019 throughThursday 12/26/2019, and again on Tue. December 31 and Wed. January 1. No pick-ups or deliveries on those days!
After Meeting Distributions
Cathy from Step Up brought more seasonal craft and décor items that were donated by JoAnn Fabrics. More than 6 large crates full of summer and fall wreathes, silk flowers, and other items were available. If you missed out, you can check with her to see if they have more stuff to share.
Val had 100 gift bags of hygiene products for teens that were donated by the Lady Elks. She suggested that 10 pantries could get 10 each to give out, or people could take fewer bags, so that more pantries could participate.
Taylor was onsite with squash for those pantries that did not yet receive theirs (Nov. Farm to Neighbor.) These need to be given out quickly. If you still needed squash, but did not have a representative at the meeting, you may have missed out.
Farm to Neighbor Veggie Sign Up
January’s vegetable is parsnips. (20 lbs.) Our purchasing coordinator, Christina from Groundworks, circulated a veggie sign-up sheet for January.
She would still like feedback from us – what’s working well or what’s not, for example. She plans to have a more formal evaluation at next month’s meeting. They are in the process of planning for next year’s distribution and need our feedback regarding what local fruits and vegetables we would like to try to get! Please email Val or Christina with ideas, comments, or questions.
Pet Food Pickups – Volunteers are needed!
Rocky is no longer able to pick up pet food from our donor. The coalition is looking for 4 volunteers who would be willing to pick up pet food and supplies once per month (one volunteer per week.)
Mary Clulo . provided an update. She explained that the committee is a concentrated group of people working to benefit the whole coalition by collaborating with other community organizations, gathering resources, seeking grants and other funding sources, etc. The grant from Rotary Charities is actually “Healthy Food Access Hub (HFAH) grant. One goal is to double the amount of fresh, local produce that is being given out. Another is to organize a “Food Security Summit” to collaborate with other community organizations that share the mission of increasing food security in the region and improving access to healthful, nutrient-dense food for vulnerable populations.
Brandy D. from 7th Day Adventist volunteered to be a part of this committee during the meeting! A motion was made for all of those serving (See email list from Val) and was unanimously passed. Thank you to all of our Operating Committee volunteers.
Christina sent out “Thank You” notes on behalf of the coalition to local farmers who have generously donated to us this year.
We have reached a little over $36,000 in funding for the Farm to Neighbor program. Our goal for this year (by March of 2020) is $50,000. $10,000 was awarded through the Campbell Foundation, and another $10,000 from the Orton Foundation (community foundation grants) and Kris T. secured about $16,000 through her Rotary connections!
Mary Clulo made a contact with the Munson Diabetes Team who will be assisting us with improving access to food for people with special diets, a need that was identified from prior surveys. The Grand Traverse County Health Department director requested that they work with us. MSU Extension will also be working with us to provide resources, recipes, education, etc. Please gather feedback from clients and share with them regarding our needs. We also need to know how clients prefer to access recipes and educational information – for example, hand-outs or online? If we have an idea of what is easier for our clients to use, we can tailor our educational efforts to their preferences.
Northwest Food Coalition Website
Michelle W. reminded that the Harvest of the Month flyers are available at the website, as well as recipes and other resources. She asked if we would be interested in having a Member Directory so that
coalition members have easy access to phone numbers and contact information. We are looking for ways to promote the website. Do we want posters made to display that direct clients to our website? Please let Val or Michelle W. know.
Food Stamps Update
Cathy from KAIR shared information about upcoming eligibility changes. Single adults with no children in the home aged 18-49 will need to be engaging in at least 20 hour per week of paid employment, unpaid volunteer work, or schooling, and will need to be able to document participation beginning in January 2020. Pantries may see an increase, and this may be a chance to get some new volunteers.
Monthly Presentation: God’s Anazao House
Rev. William Marotz spoke about their men’s recovery home located at 4947 Church Road in Traverse City, just off of Cedar Run Road. He and his wife, Yvonne, who are both chaplains at local jails, opened this home to help men who struggle with drug/alcohol addiction. As men leave prison or jail, if they are committed to changing their lives, this Christian home provides a safe place for them to get their lives on track. In their work, they saw many people keep returning to jail, like a revolving door. Transition homes for men exiting jail or prison are often flowing with drugs and alcohol, so it’s difficult to break the cycle. They work with probation officers in the area and accept referrals from them, and they accept clients from all locations, as long as they have a desire ...