Harvest Gathering food drive begins

The Michigan Harvest Gathering is an annual statewide campaign that raises food and funds for Michigan’s emergency food response.

As part of the campaign, from now until Nov. 21, Michigan residents can donate nonperishable food items at all Secretary of State offices.

“On behalf of my team, I am so proud to once again pledge the full cooperation of our 131 Secretary of State offices as we take on hunger in our hometowns,” said Secretary of State Ruth Johnson. “From shore to shore and across both peninsulas, our offices are now official ‘giving centers’ for the 2018 Harvest Gathering campaign.”

Since 2011, Secretary of State offices have collected more than 30 tons of food donations, including 5 tons of food in 2017.

In Michigan, 16 percent of households struggle to put food on the table and 21 percent of children don’t know where their next meal will come from, according to the Food Bank Council of Michigan. The organization coordinates the Harvest Gathering program, which supplies the state’s regional food banks through donations of food and money. The regional food banks serve food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters in every Michigan county.

“People, especially children, cannot work and learn when they are hungry,” said Phil Knight, Food Bank Council executive director. “The Michigan Harvest Gathering is a way to raise awareness as we move toward a food secure state.”

In 2017, the entire Michigan Harvest Gathering campaign collected 869,000 pounds of food and more than $329,000.

Nonperishable food items with a valid expiration date can be dropped off at any Secretary of State office. Food items especially needed include canned meats, dry beans, soups, beef stew, pasta products, peanut butter and tuna. Other items include baby food or formula, diapers, soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes. The Food Bank requests donors avoid items in glass, as they often break in transit.

The Iron Mountain office is at 1044 S. Stephenson Ave. in the Midtown Mall. The Iron River office is at 992 Lalley Road.

Financial donations can be made online at www.feedmichigan.org.