BATH — A is for apple. B is for bushel. C is for caring. D is for donation.
And F is “For Purpose,” an effort from the Michigan Farm Bureau family of companies to end childhood hunger in Michigan.
During Hunger Action Month in September, more than 100 MFB staff members volunteered at various food banks in Lansing, Grand Rapids, Flint, Ann Arbor, Detroit, and Oak Park to help sort and pack grocery goods for families in need.
Some employees on Wednesday handled and packed 2,040 McIntosh apples to be delivered for the Greater Lansing Food Bank’s backpack program, which provides food kits to children in kindergarten through eighth grade. Other groups boxed 12,064 pounds of food in 2.5 hours.
“Volunteers are a critical part of our mission here,” said Michael Steidel, marketing communications manager for the Greater Lansing Food Bank. “They come in one capacity or another every day.”
According to a recent USDA report on food security, 13.5 million U.S. households in 2021 were “food insecure.” Those households, according to the report, found “difficulty at some time during the year providing enough food for all their members because of a lack of resources.”
Michigan’s hunger numbers are similarly concerning, said Steidel, noting one in eight counties served by the food bank is food insecure.
“If you can imagine a Spartan Stadium being filled, that's about how many people are food insecure,” he told Michigan Farm News.
The Greater Lansing Food Bank currently partners with more than 140 local pantries, agencies, and food centers to deliver donated food.
“It’s organizations like Farm Bureau that we are so appreciative of because we could never do this by just our staff,” Steidel added. “The work that we're doing and feeding the communities — this is critical help. And it's very much appreciated.”
According to Cassandra Sinadinos, community engagement specialist for Farm Bureau Insurance of Michigan, the company must involve employees, agents and county Farm Bureaus in volunteer and community efforts.
“Some of our employees have only communicated virtually with our agents, so the opportunity to introduce them and unite our entire company under our mission makes our Farm Bureau family even stronger,” Sinadinos said.
Looking ahead, MFB’s successful Million Meals Challenge will return in October. The effort, which utilizes generous donations from farmers, insurance agents, members, employees and county Farm Bureaus raised more than $203,000 in 2021, each dollar of which equates to five meals donated to the seven regional food banks in Michigan, benefitting all 83 counties.