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Sinbad’s laughter raises the roof on hunger

by Russ Russell, chief development officer, Forgotten Harvest

Laughter is not only the best medicine, it helped Forgotten Harvest raise enough money to provide nearly one million meals to help feed those in need in Southeast Michigan.

Comedian Sinbad, a Michigan native, returned home to star in Forgotten Harvest’s Comedy Night and raise funds to rescue and provide more fresh food to those in need.

It was a night of laughs at Andiamo in Warren on Saturday, May 21, but as we know, hunger is no laughing matter. Our drivers were back out on Monday, collecting food and making sure Metro Detroiters can feed themselves and their families.

The need is great. Many Metro Detroiters find themselves in a situation they never would have expected … unable to provide their own food. At Forgotten Harvest, we are seeing hunger spread to communities we never would have expected just a few years ago.

Right now, four million households in Michigan live at risk of hunger. In those households, 500,000 people, including nearly 200,000 children, live in poverty in Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties. With these statistics, it is no surprise that the number of individual emergency food recipients receiving food each week in Southeast Michigan has grown by more than 78 percent in the past five years, from 56,700 in 2006 to 101,200 this year, according to Feeding America.

Just last year, Forgotten Harvest rescued 19.4 million pounds of food and is on track to rescue more than 24 million pounds of fresh, nutritious food this year. This food directly benefits those in need by making its way into shelters or food pantries for distribution, often within the same day. Despite rescuing record numbers of fresh food, it is still not enough.

Private and corporate donations and fundraisers help us grow our ability to provide fresh food to hungry people in southeast Michigan. For example, funds raised at this year’s Comedy Night will help provide more than one million meals to metro Detroit through ticket sales, sponsorships and donated auction items.

As our network of food providers and service organizations expand, so does our need for donations to rescue prepared and perishable food. Consider this: in Forgotten Harvest’s 2010 annual survey of metro Detroit emergency food providers 19 percent had to turn away people because they did not have enough food available for distribution; 84 percent saw a dramatic increase in the numbers of people seeking help, and 79 percent said more food could be distributed if it was available.

The good news is there are many, many ways to get involved and help ensure our neighbors have enough to eat – from donations to volunteering. Attending our events, like the recent Comedy Night or the upcoming Champagne Cruise during the Dream Cruise August 19, also helps put food on the table for those who otherwise may go hungry.

Forgotten Harvest was created in 1990 to address two problems – hunger and waste. Over the last 20 years, the organization has expanded and continues to fight hunger, even as both issues grow. Your support, event attendance and donations help us address these issues directly, and we will keep working to ensure nobody in metro Detroit goes hungry.

All proceeds from Comedy Night and other Forgotten Harvest fundraisers go directly to help feed people who are hungry or food insecure. As one of the most efficient mobile food rescue organizations in the U.S. every dollar donated allows Forgotten Harvest to provide five meals to those in need.

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