What’s the Need in Metro Detroit?

If you’re reading this, you likely already know what Forgotten Harvest is here to do. If not and you’ve landed on this blog page as your first Forgotten Harvest introduction, welcome! Thank you for taking the time to read about who we are and why we’re here.

Our organization is one of the largest food rescue operations in the country. That means we partner with grocery stores, farms, dairies, restaurants, caterers, entertainment venues, and more to collect the food they’ve ordered, grown, or produced in surplus and can’t sell. We then take that rescued food and deliver it free of charge to hundreds of emergency food providers around metro Detroit.

We do all of this because the need for food assistance in our community is significant.

According to the Michigan Association of United Ways’ 2023 ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) report that estimates the number of households who work but can’t afford all their bills, 39% of Michigan’s population knows the struggle of being unable to meet all their basic necessities, including food, housing, childcare, transportation, and healthcare.

For metro Detroit, that works out to:

  • 37% of Macomb County
  • 31% of Oakland County
  • 47% of Wayne County

When there’s only so much in the budget, nutritious food is often one of the first things sacrificed to handle other expenses. Unfortunately, many in our immediate community are forced into that decision.

Forgotten Harvest is here to make sure those individuals can still access enough food for themselves and their families to get through their week without needing to work around the painful disruption of hunger.

MORE: Find Free Food Here

The Issue of Undernutrition and Malnutrition

Hunger and food insecurity are not just uncomfortable — they can be dangerous. Eating enough nutritious food on a consistent basis is fundamental to a healthy life. When we don’t consume enough vitamins and minerals, our bodies struggle to produce the enzymes, hormones, and other substances vital to our development and functioning.

Pregnancies and births become more hazardous, the risk of developing chronic and life-altering diseases and illnesses inflates, and our central nervous system and mental health become more susceptible to defect and decline. The more vulnerable populations among us, like children and seniors, are particularly affected.

The Issue of Food Loss

Forgotten Harvest was founded to feed those in need with nutritious food, but another pillar of our work is preventing nutritious food loss. The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food loss as “the edible amount of food, postharvest, that is available for human consumption but is not consumed for any reason.”

USDA estimates that 30%-40% of the food supply in the U.S. goes unconsumed annually. When we place that frame over the more than 17 million food-insecure households in the U.S. in 2022, we’re left with a troubling picture. How can we get this significant portion of our food supply onto the tables of those who need it rather than let it pad out the lost food statistic?

That’s where organizations like Forgotten Harvest come in.

MORE: About Forgotten Harvest

Forgotten Harvest Fights Food Insecurity and Food Loss

Forgotten Harvest’s grand vision is communities that work together to end hunger and increase individual, neighborhood, economic, and environmental health. To realize that vision, we partner with over 560 food donors and more than 220 emergency food providers throughout metro Detroit. We deliver around 134,000 pounds of surplus food to our community each day.

We’re extraordinarily grateful for the many relationships we’ve built that help us do all of this. From passionate individuals to community organizations and government bodies, our partnerships allow us to feed as many people as possible with as much surplus food as possible.

In the 2022-2023 fiscal year, we rescued and distributed over 40 million pounds of surplus food to our neighbors in need. This year, we’re projected to deliver 48 million pounds — and our growth will continue as long as the need continues.

Are you with us? It takes all of us to fight food insecurity and food loss, so please visit our volunteer page or donation page to extend your support to the hundreds of thousands of metro Detroiters who don’t know where their next meal will come from.