For years, food banks have distributed large amounts of nonperishable items to those looking for assistance. Although a lot of these items are necessities and contain important nutrients, not having fresh food is detrimental to long-term health and success.
A lack of properly balanced meals can lead to a multitude of health issues, including both physical and mental problems, such as cardiovascular problems, digestive problems, a greater risk of depression, and more. When our bodies aren’t efficiently nourished, our lifespan is at risk of shortening and our quality of life is lower as well. With children especially, their rapidly developing brains and bodies need even more nutrients than an adult. Without proper nutrition, children are more likely to suffer from growth and developmental impairments, limiting their full potential and causing long-term physical, emotional, and intellectual issues for the child.
Here at South Michigan Food Bank, we are determined to provide families with fresh options, such as fruits, vegetables, and dairy, in order to give them the opportunity to supplement nonperishable items, have a variety in their diet, and lead a healthier life. In 2008, this goal turned into a real movement, leading to the start of our Fresh Food Distribution program. To this day, it is one of our most loved and impactful programs.
We partner with local farmers, buying thousands of pounds of fresh produce from them every year in order to make this program possible. The produce is carefully packed and taken to one of our 100 distribution sites, where families can come once a month to pick up their box. Each month, 20 pounds of fresh food are provided to nearly 10,000 people across the 8 counties that we serve.
In 2022, South Michigan Food Bank distributed almost 105,000 fresh food boxes, totaling more than 4.7 million pounds of food. But we’re not stopping there! With some distribution sites running out of boxes in less than an hour, our ultimate goal is to grow this program, offering more boxes to those looking for support. In addition, we’d like to eventually add more days of distribution to give people more options when it comes to pick-up.
Not only are we hoping to expand this program, but we are also focused on maintaining it year-round. Our local partnerships make it possible to get fresh produce in the summer, but during the winter season, it gets much more difficult. To ensure our boxes are still as fresh in the winter as they are in the summer, receiving produce from out of state is vital, but much more expensive. Our clean room gives us the opportunity to repackage fresh-frozen produce during the colder months as well.
With your support, we can continue to develop our Fresh Food Distribution Program, along with the various other programs we offer. Through giving, volunteering, and advocating, you can make a difference in the fight against hunger!