Established 1988, Michigan’s first food rescue program
Food Gatherers is not only Michigan’s first food rescue program, but the first program of its kind to be founded by a for-profit business, Zingerman’s Delicatessen.
A few days before Thanksgiving in 1988, Food Gatherers volunteers borrowed a van and collected 50 pounds of vegetables, bread, milk, and eggs from half a dozen grocery stores and restaurants. The food was quickly re-distributed to hot meal programs in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.
Today, Food Gatherers is an independent 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization governed by a board of directors and operated by 30 staff people and 7,500 volunteers. In Fiscal Year 2019, we distributed 6.6 million pounds of food, the equivalent of 5.5 million meals, to our neighbors in need.
We are committed to providing the best possible service to the community. Service guides all that we do.
All Food Gatherers’ actions are based on our commitment to serve people experiencing hunger.
We are committed to distributing safe, usable, nutritious, and appealing food.
We believe that food is a basic human right.
We are committed to and work for equity, and an ideal world in which all people have access to food, shelter, meaningful work, dignity, and freedoms.
To us, growth is two-fold: a commitment to long-term strategic planning as well as responsiveness to the needs of the community and to new opportunities for meeting those needs.
We recognize and honor the different roles and responsibilities of the staff and the board of directors, but view this core group as members of one team working toward a common goal.
The same values that guide our service to the community also guide our relations to one another.
We believe that everyone can play a role in the fight against hunger.
We fight hunger efficiently. We regard the gifts of food, money and time that we receive as a sacred trust to be administered for the most effective hunger relief possible.
We are a fiscally responsible organization.
We are committed to honoring diversity in all forms: identities, experiences and thought. We believe in the value of participation in active dialogue to fulfill our shared mission.
Who we serve
170 non-profit agencies and programs providing direct food assistance in the form of hot meals, nutritious snacks or emergency groceries to low-income adults, seniors and children in Washtenaw County.
Food Gatherers provides our agency partners with:
Mostly free (70%) and low cost food
Capacity building grants
Training to register eligible clients for federal and state benefit programs
Customized food safety training by licensed food safety professionals on our staff
Food Gatherers provides direct service through our Community Kitchen and Job Training Program located in the Robert J. Delonis Center in downtown Ann Arbor:
1,600 volunteers prepare and serve nearly 75,000 plates of food to people in need each year at the Community Kitchen.
Students of the Job Training and Internship programs are chosen from at-risk youth (ages 16-20). They gain basic training in the culinary arts and work to develop work ethics and life skills.
Food Gatherers rescues food that would otherwise go to waste from more than 300 local sources including food retailers, restaurants and food wholesalers. As members of both the Food Bank Council of Michigan and Feeding America, we are connected to statewide and national corporate and government food donations. Our Growing Initiatives are dramatically increasing the amount of local vegetables available to our partners:
Faith and Food – a coordinated campaign to encourage congregations and community organizations to start gardens and donate a portion of their harvest.
Plant a Row for the Hungry – encourages local gardeners to grow a little extra to donate to food banks.
Huron Valley Women’s Correctional Facility – their horticulture program provides tons of fresh produce.
Michigan Farm to Food Bank – we pay local farmers to grow tons of fruits and vegetables.
We acquire food from donations made to food drives held throughout the year. We also purchase bulk food items!
Connecting the dots between hunger and public health
Our neighbors living in poverty face a much higher likelihood of having high cholesterol, diabetes and other diet related ailments. Food Gatherers is focused on distributing not just more pounds of food but more nutritionally valuable food. In our last fiscal year, 60% of all food distributed was fresh fruits, vegetables or meat, eggs, and other protein items!
ANN ARBOR, MI 48105-9290 | Tax-exempt since Sept. 1989
Nonprofit Tax Code Designation: 501(c)(3) Defined as: Organizations for any of the following purposes: religious, educational, charitable, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering national or international amateur sports competition (as long as it doesn’t provide athletic facilities or equipment), or the prevention of cruelty to children or animals.
Donations to this organization are tax deductible.