WEST BLOOMFIELD — To celebrate his coming of age, West Bloomfield resident Morgan Reifler dedicated his bar mitzvah to metro Detroit’s food insecure.

Instead of gifts, the 12-year-old asked family and friends to help him raise money for Forgotten Harvest, an Oak Park-based nonprofit that works to donate food to those who wouldn’t otherwise have access to it.

“There are a lot of people in the world without food, and I want to help them be able to have food,” said Reifler.

Reifler’s father, J.J. Reifler, matched all donations that his son received. The pair decided on a goal of $20,000, which they met.

“We try to do charitable stuff (as a family), but this was definitely special to tie in with his bar mitzvah,” said J.J. Reifler. “We were a little familiar with Forgotten Harvest. … We learned a lot about it. We spent a Saturday afternoon volunteering.”

Morgan Reifler raised $20,000 total for Forgotten Harvest, which equates to 80,000 meals and about $140,000 worth of groceries the nonprofit can then distribute to people in need.

“I was happy that (people) wanted to donate. It’s a good cause for people who don’t have enough food,” said Morgan Reifler. “I’m very proud of how generous people were with their donations.”

Forgotten Harvest “rescues” fresh surplus foods donated from retailers like Meijer and Kroger, as well as from farmers and manufacturers. Volunteers work with the nonprofit to repackage the food and deliver it to shelters and food pantries throughout southeast Michigan.

“Ninety-five percent of our operating support is from individuals in the community who make gifts to us to support our mission,” said Tim Hudson, chief development officer for the organization. “We have about 26,000 donors. … We could not do what we do without our donors.”

The nonprofit works with over 800 food donors and aims to collect fresh, nutritious foods. The organization “rescued” over 45 million pounds of food in 2017 from these donors, delivering the food to 250 emergency pantries, soup kitchens, homeless and domestic shelters, children’s homes, senior centers, and group homes in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.

“It was heartfelt. It’s a 12-year-old taking the initiative,” said Hudson. “That’s how we operate — there’s a lot of folks in the community who support us. It’s a major gift for our organization. Forgotten Harvest is very grateful to the community and for J.J. and Morgan and their family and friends for making contributions to the organization.”

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