The Food Chain… Page1
The Food Chain…
All the news that’s fit to glean about hunger in West Michigan
June 1, 2007 Media Contact: Gail Philbin, 616-784-3250, ext. 227
Buist Foundation Answers Gleaners’ Call for Help - Responding to a plea last month for
help renovating a beverage trailer donated to Gleaners by Kent Beverage Company, Inc., the
Buist Foundation of Byron Center has stepped up to cover all costs involved in making the
vehicle road ready. The offer includes retrofitting, painting and adding logos and lettering to the
trailer and is valued at $5,000-$10,000.
Gleaners accepts used beverage trailers and renovates them so its member agencies can use
them to distribute anywhere from 5,000-10,000 pounds of perishable product directly to the
needy in their communities. The program, which was pioneered by Gleaners’ Executive Director
John Arnold in 1998, has inspired 50 similar efforts nationwide and distributed more than 35
million pounds of food.
Brent Brinks of the Buist Foundation contacted Gleaners after seeing an article in the food
bank’s quarterly newsletter, “Bank Notes.” The foundation had recently begun funding mobile
pantry distributions in Byron Center and was impressed with how effective they are, said
Gleaners mobile pantry program hit a record 90 distributions in April and the food bank
needs more donated trailers to accommodate the demand. Organizations that would like to
contribute vehicles or funds to the program should contact Gail Philbin at 616-784-3250, ext.
Hunger Awareness Day Event Spotlights Mobile Food Pantries - For the second year in a
row, Panera Bread is partnering with Gleaners for a special observance of Hunger Awareness
Day. On Tuesday, June 5th, from 5-9 p.m. Panera Bread will hold a special fundraising evening
The Food Chain… Page2
for Gleaners’ mobile pantry program at its cafe at 3150 Alpine Ave. NW in Walker.
During that time, the company will donate to Gleaners 20% of the proceeds from all
purchases made by customers who present a copy of Gleaners’ newsletter or any newspaper
articles announcing the event. Any funds raised throughout the evening will go to support
Gleaners’ mobile food pantry program, a cost-effective way for charities to directly distribute
large quantities of perishable, food to needy people in their communities.
A mobile pantry truck will be on display in the parking lot outside the café, and Gleaners’
staff will be on hand to answer questions.
Panera Bread representatives will also present a check to Gleaners’ Executive Director
John Arnold with donations they have collected from customers as well as corporate
contributions from 2006. In addition to financial contributions to Gleaners, Panera has given
surplus baked goods to the food bank for the last two years. In 2006, it made the top 25 food
donors with 167,079 pounds donated from its bakery-cafes in the Greater Grand Rapids area.
Gleaners’ Director Hits 25-Year Mark in Food Banking – John Arnold, Gleaners’ Executive
Director since 1989, celebrated his 25th anniversary in food banking in May. He started his
career at the Central Illinois Food Bank in Springfield, Ill., on May 1, 1982, and ran the St. Louis
Area Food Bank and worked in the national office of America’s Second Harvest in Chicago before
coming to Second Harvest Gleaners Food Bank in Comstock Park.
An event in the first autumn of his food bank career ensured that Arnold would always
work in the field. He was picking up food donations at a store one snowy, cold night and saw a
hand grasping the top of a dumpster. Upon closer inspection, he found an elderly gentleman
collapsed inside – he had left his invalid wife sleeping and gone out to find food but got stuck in
“If there was ever any chance of me growing tired of my food banking job, this incident
cured me of that possibility,” said Arnold.
Donor Relations Manager
Second Harvest Gleaners Food Bank of West Michigan
864 W. River Center Dr.
Comstock Park, MI 49321