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Posted on Tue, Aug 11, 2009 : 8:35 a.m.

Food Gatherers urgently needs donations for pantry

By Julie Wiernik

The pantry at Food Gatherers is running extremely low on canned goods and other non-perishable foods due to record numbers of hungry families, children and seniors in the area.

To meet the need, Food Gatherers is calling on congregations, clubs, neighborhood groups, offices and individuals to undertake canned food drives and restock the pantry.

Food Gatherers — the primary hunger-relief organization in Washtenaw County —continues to "rescue" tons of surplus fresh food daily from supermarkets, restaurants, farms and the like.

But canned and non-perishable food are now urgently needed, said Eileen Spring, president of Food Gatherers.

Ordinarily, said Spring, canned food drives during winter and spring yield enough staples to last through the summer. But this year, with record demand for food assistance, the pantry is depleted.

Summer is especially tough for hungry families. During the school year, needy children can count on free breakfast and lunch programs at school — meals that their families may not be able to afford during the summer months.

Pantry items in greatest demand are tuna fish, canned or dried beans, pasta, rice, peanut butter (in plastic jars), granola bars, pancake mix, cereal, oatmeal and powered milk.

"We always see a big surge in pantry donations around the holidays," said Spring. "But the need is so chronic. We need donations now."

Do you want to organize a food drive at your workplace? Food Gatherers offers lots of tips to make it fun and successful: Set a goal for food donations, then enlist a manager to carry out a crazy act if the goal is met. Have theme days such as "macaroni Monday" or "tuna Tuesday."

Another idea: For your next birthday party, ask guests to bring pantry items for Food Gatherers. Many more tips are listed on Food Gatherers' Web site.

Even if you're not involved in a food drive, you can still donate pantry items to Food Gatherers. Individuals can drop their donations at the People's Food Co-op, 216 N. Fourth Ave. A bin in the front of the store serves as a collection point for Food Gatherers.

Financial donations can also help replenish the pantry. A contribution of just $35 can provide a month of meals to a hungry child; $50 will do the same for a senior citizen, according to Food Gatherers.

On an average day, Food Gatherers collects and redistributes about 7 tons of food in Washtenaw County, providing about 8,000 meals to hungry residents.

Julie Wiernik is part of the Community Team at Reach her by calling 734.358.2809 or by e-mailing


Johnny Nordic

Wed, Aug 12, 2009 : 4:02 p.m.

This is a great story and I hope it helps, but it was already written on Friday by Mary Bilyeu. That post should've been on the home page.


Tue, Aug 11, 2009 : 8:48 p.m.

Thanks for getting this info out... and congratulations for implementing the technology to make it possible to easily share (facebook, etc!)

Jennifer Shikes Haines

Tue, Aug 11, 2009 : 4:29 p.m.

You can also donate fresh produce directly to Food Gatherers. I'm so glad this story is here!


Tue, Aug 11, 2009 : 1:53 p.m.

Thank you for printing this story. Beyond pantry items, local community-based organizations like Food Gatherers urgently need cash donations. Please also consider donating directly to your local organizations.

Tony Dearing

Tue, Aug 11, 2009 : 1:51 p.m.

Carrie, just to clarify, voting on stories determines what shows up under the "Popular'' tag on the home page and on topic pages, but it doesn't determine what stories appear in the newspaper. We do think this is an important story for the community, and hope to use it in the Thursday paper, depending on what other local news we have developing.

Carrie Rheingans

Tue, Aug 11, 2009 : 12:05 p.m.

also, the stories w/the most votes on will be printed in the print editions, so please vote for this story!


Tue, Aug 11, 2009 : 12:01 p.m.

And this is one reason why Ann Arbor needs a community news forum. I hope your readership is up We are grateful for the Thursday and Sunday print editions, so requests like this one from the foodgathers can be heard and fulfilled.

Carrie Rheingans

Tue, Aug 11, 2009 : 11:56 a.m.

Please forward this story to your networks. See where it says 'share this post' below the story? If you have a facebook account, twitter, etc., please use these methods too. I just sent it to UM students in public health and social work and plan to donate when I return from Peru.

Susan Montgomery

Tue, Aug 11, 2009 : 11:35 a.m.

Thanks for making us aware of this. There seems to be an error in the last paragraph. Their website mentions 7 tons a day, not 7,000 tons...