Secretary of State offices collecting food donations

It’s harvest season. Time to bring in the food.

Through Nov. 15, all Secretary of State branch offices will collect nonperishable food items as part of its annual Harvest Gathering campaign, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has announced.

This marks two decades of Harvest Gathering at Secretary of State offices, Benson said.

Even more important, “because donations stay in the area in which they are collected, every food or personal care item you drop off at a Secretary of State branch office will assist someone in need within your community — a family, a veteran, a senior citizen, a homeless neighbor,” Benson said.

In 2018, the statewide Michigan Harvest Gathering campaign, which included the Michigan Health and Hospital Association and multiple state departments, collected 1,285,000 pounds of food and more than $329,000.

“Creating partnerships between corporations, small businesses and government is critical to making Michigan a food secure state,” said Dr. Phillip Knight, executive director of the Food Bank Council of Michigan. “Our partnership with the Secretary of State during the Michigan Harvest Gathering is vital in reaching every community in our state.”

In Michigan, 16 percent of households struggle to put food on the table, and 21 percent of children may not know where their next meal will come from, according to the Food Bank Council of Michigan. That 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.

Nonperishable food items with a valid expiration date can be dropped off at any Secretary of State office. Atop the list are canned meats, dry beans, soups, beef stew, pasta products, peanut butter and tuna. Other, less obvious needs — but no less essential — include baby food or formula, plus non-food or hygiene items such as diapers, soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes.

Food banks requests that donors avoid items in glass, as they often break in transit. Financial donations can be made online at FeedMichigan.org.