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Gleaners Open House Successful
Several dozen people dropped by throughout the day to see how Gleaners, a nonprofit clearinghouse of donated food, distributes 1.3 million pounds per month to 1,100 charitable agencies in the Lower and Upper peninsulas of West Michigan. Visitors included donors, the general public and representatives from charitable and governmental agencies.
Activities included tours of the facility, which opened in 2000 and features a 3,500-square-foot walk-in freezer/cooler, and the chance to meet the people behind the scenes who make it possible for Gleaners to feed more than 263,000 people each year.
Since 1981, Gleaners’ mission has been to feed the hungry by routing food industry surpluses and usable discards to charity agencies in its 40-county area. It accepts most everyday food products and non-food necessities found in grocery stores and receives such donations as leftover promotional products, misprints, dented goods or close code-dated items.
In Michigan, about 3.9 billion pounds of food are put in landfills annually. Less than 2 percent of that figure, or 57 million pounds, would solve the hunger problem in West Michigan, according to Executive Director John Arnold.
“All we need to do is catch more usable product before it gets thrown away, and we can end hunger in our corner of the world,” he said.
Since 1981, hundreds of companies have donated more than 180 million pounds of product to Gleaners. Top 2003 donors include Coca-Cola, Country Fresh Dairies, General Mills, Gordon Food Service, Ice Mountain Bottling, Kellogg, Kraft, Minute Maid, Pearson Foods, Spartan Stores, Superior Sales, Van Solkema Farms and Yoplait.