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Food Bank of Eastern Michigan Launches Food Rescue Program

Volunteer Dillon Clark.

A new Food Bank of Eastern Michigan program will get prepared food directly from restaurants to Genesee County residents in need — and volunteer drivers are needed to help.

The Food Bank’s Middle Mile program launched as a pilot in October. Participating restaurants can donate prepared food, which will be picked up by a volunteer driver and transported directly to a Food Bank partner in the area. Volunteer drivers are notified by text and/or email when volunteer opportunities become available. Partner agencies include soup kitchens, local churches, shelters and pantries that have the ability to accept and serve prepared food.

“The Middle Mile Program is a win-win for the Food Bank, participating restaurants, and the community,” said Kara Ross, President & CEO of the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan. “The donations allow the Food Bank to increase food we are able to distribute through our Hunger Relief Partner Network, and restaurants get to donate food directly to people in need in the community.”

Dezerae Andersen of Little Caesars/MacPizza, LLC.

Little Caesars franchises in Genesee County, through MacPizza, LLC, have partnered with the Food Bank to donate prepared foods to agencies through the Middle Mile program as a way to give back to the community. MacPizza, LLC, has 21 Little Caesars locations in Genesee County and the Durand area.

“We want people in the community to know we are here for them,” said Dezarae Andersen, Office Director for MacPizza, LLC. “The Middle Mile Program is a great opportunity for us to give back. Our store managers and employees are so grateful to be able to help people in need.”

The program wouldn’t be possible without a committed network of volunteer drivers. In just one hour, one volunteer can help feed 100 hungry people. Jenny “AJ” Clark and her son spend Saturdays picking up and delivering pizzas.

“My son is 12 and wanted to do something to help the community,” Clark said. “There is a lot of hunger in the area, and I am glad we’re able to help. Volunteering is a great way to spend time with my son.”

The Food Bank is currently looking for volunteer drivers with morning availability. After a brief safety training with the Food Bank, drivers will pick up food donations and transport it directly to an agency partner in Flint.

“We are looking for licensed drivers with reliable transportation who have time to give back to their community a couple hours a week,” said Kelly DelReal , an outreach coordinator at the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan who oversees the Middle Mile initiative. “The time commitment is minimal, but drivers will make a huge impact by getting food directly to those who need it most in our community.”

Volunteer Rozlyn DelReal.

The Food Bank has already partnered with Little Caesar’s franchise in Genesee County. Twenty one locations are offering daily donations. Volunteers interested in driving or potential food donors can contact DelReal at kdelreal@fbem.us or (810) 396-0251. If the pilot program is successful in Genesee County, it can potentially expand to other regions served by the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan.

The Food Rescue program is supported by a grant from Feeding America and the Walmart Foundation.