Making Protein Possible

Child wearing winter coat holding packaged turkey
March 30, 2015
by Andrew Steiner

If you volunteer at Feeding America West Michigan and you’re not sorting retail donations, cleaning produce or building food boxes, chances are you’ll be repacking frozen eggs donated by Cargill Kitchen Solutions. In just the last five years, Cargill has donated more than 530,000 pounds of egg patties, scrambled eggs and egg whites to the Food Bank.

In the hunger-relief world, protein can be hard to come by. Animal protein tends to be more expensive, both to produce and to buy, than most other foods – meaning that the industry takes special care to limit excess production. As a result they typically have less to donate. In fact, protein represents just 1 percent of the donations the Feeding America network receives each year – which makes Cargill’s commitment to Feeding America West Michigan that much more remarkable.

 “I like to point out that since 2010, Cargill’s Lake Odessa facility has donated enough food to provide one meal to nearly every person we serve in a year,” said Food Sourcing Specialist Katie Auwers.

But Cargill has done more than just donate their surplus eggs. In April 2013, it sponsored its first Mobile Food Pantry with Central United Methodist Church, beginning a relationship with the church that continues to this day.

Central’s Leona Rayner says they wouldn’t be able to sustain the Mobile Pantry program without Cargill’s support.

“They make it possible,” she said. “We couldn’t do any of this without Cargill.”

The program is vital to those in need in Lake Odessa, Rayner said. This is especially true of the elderly – who struggle to cover their basic expenses on limited incomes and lack many of the services, like affordable transportation, that might be available in more populous areas.

Cargill’s Dustin Moseley, who has volunteered at Central’s monthly Mobile Pantries for the last two years, said the program has left a mark on him too:

“The biggest thing is [when] someone said, ‘Hey, because you gave me this food, I can pay my bills.’ For me, it really shows a different appreciation for what you have and makes you want to give back.”

As one of the Food Bank’s top donors and a supporter of a Mobile Pantry in one of our service area’s highest-need communities, Cargill has given back in a big way. The company not only empowers us to better reach our clients, with its ongoing donation of nutrient-rich protein product we are able to provide more balanced options – which is so important to the long-term wellbeing of the people we serve. We’re grateful to partner with Cargill as we continue to help provide more meals for those in need in West Michigan.

*Andrew Steiner is a communication specialist at Feeding America West Michigan