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Food Bank of Eastern Michigan inducts two new members to the Edward A. Mitchell Million Pound Club

The Food Bank of Eastern Michigan inducted two longtime partners into the Edward A. Mitchell Million Pound Club during its Annual Meeting on April 10.

The Million Pound Club honors past Food Bank Board of Directors chair Edward A. Mitchell, who joined the board in 1991. He and his wife Val have been longtime supporters of the Food Bank. Inductees to the Million Pound Club have combined support levels — through monetary, food, and in-kind donations — equaling one million pounds or more of food.

The 2019 inductees are Outfront Media and Mike Pirrone Produce.

“The Million Pound Club is the highest honor we award,” said Kara Ross, President & CEO of the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan. “It recognizes partners for cumulative, long-term support that helps us make a significant impact in the ongoing fight against hunger in the 22 counties we serve. We are grateful for the major impact and contributions that Outfront Media and Mike Pirrone Produce have had in that fight, and for their continued support.”

Outfront Media is one of the largest outdoor media companies in the United States and Canada. Since 2007, the company has provided year-round billboard space to the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan to support the organization, fundraising campaigns and other initiatives.

“We count it as a privilege to donate advertising space in order to help dominate the news cycle and help those in need,” said Lueida Grady, who recently retired from Outfront Media and served as the Food Bank’s account representative during her career. “We are proud that through outdoor advertising for the Food Bank we can promote a message that can hopefully eradicate hunger.”

In-kind donations of billboard space to the Food Bank has resulted in an average of nearly $60,000 since 2007. That cumulative value is more than $600,000, or the equivalent of providing more than 4.3 million pounds of food to people in need.

“It is important to unify the public in their understanding of organizations like the Food Bank,” Grady said. “Our services are a vehicle educate and inform the general public. Outfront Media has made it a priority to use their advertising properties to help advocate for good causes.”

Mike Pirrone Produce, a family-owned business in Capac, Michigan, owned by the DeBlouw family, is a more than 3,000-acre farm that grows cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash, peppers, egg plant, rhubarb, cabbage, and kale, among others, has partnered with the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan for 10 years. During that time, the farm has donated nearly 1.9 million pounds of produce. The Food Bank has also been able to purchase at deeply discounted rates nearly 7 million more pounds of produce.

“Mike Pirrone Produce has gone above and beyond helping the Food Bank in its mission of feeding the hungry,” said Terry Nix, Director of Outreach at the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan.

Mike Pirrone produce is currently operated by Donna DeBlouw and her sons, Matt and Henry DeBlouw. Their philosophy includes a commitment to serving the community, so the partnership with the Food Bank supports the company’s mission.

“Giving others an opportunity to have access to nutritious food is gratifying,” Matt DeBlouw said. “We are lucky to be able to serve the community.”

The partnership has also helped Mike Pirrone Produce eliminate waste — crops that normally wouldn’t be sold now go to the Food Bank.

“At the end of the day, throwing produce away is not smart,” Matt DeBlouw said. “Knowing that you’re doing right, knowing that you’re helping someone by providing a healthy lifestyle and food really serves the community.”