Before I came to South Michigan Food Bank in 2019, I gained 9 years of multilevel leadership at Meijer in inventory and warehouse management and I also worked on my family farm, holding expertise in the food and agriculture space. I graduated from Western Michigan University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. I started as a Community Impact Coordinator for Barry, Kalamazoo, and St. Joseph Counties. In 2020, I moved into the Operations Director role where I built relationships with farming partners and worked with retail and manufacturing to increase donations. As COO, I am committed to being a great community partner in all eight counties in our service area.
I’m so proud of my team here at South Michigan Food Bank; last year, we were able to distribute 11,106,970 pounds of food to our 8 counties. At SMFB, we are dedicated to getting healthier options out to our community partners, and in 2023, we were able to distribute 3,611,247 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables, and 844,406 of that was from our local farmers right here in Michigan. We partner with our 88 Fresh Food Distribution sites throughout our 8 counties to get this fresh food where it is needed.
We started last year off with some supply chain issues. We just weren’t seeing the loads that we were used to seeing from the USDA. During the first half of the year, we only received 64 loads, but thankfully, the second half was much better, with us receiving 148 loads. These increased loads allowed us to meet the demand of our agencies that were struggling to get the amount of food they needed. This year our agencies reported that overall, they were seeing an increase in the number of households that needed food.
We rely heavily on our wonderful volunteers; without them, what we do wouldn’t be possible. Last year, our volunteers packed 91,523 fresh boxes, 10,544 backpacks, 6,927 CSFP boxes and 142,642 pounds in our clean room.
We may have a small team at SMFB, but we accomplish big things. Our staff here wear many hats, but we do what we need to do to get the job done because we take pride in what we do.