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Forgotten Harvest cruises into overdrive to stop hunger in Detroit

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It’s a yearly effort to combat a daily problem.

In metro Detroit alone one in six people experiences food insecurity, more commonly known as hunger.

As part of its ongoing mission to help feed families and individuals in the tri-county area Forgotten Harvest recently held its 14th annual “Cruisin’ to Drive Out Hunger” celebration at Westborn Market in Berkley. The fundraiser, which helped launch the Woodward Dream Cruise weekend, drew about 600 guests, included a sneak preview of Dream Cruise, and marked Forgotten Harvest’s outreach campaign to through 2016’s remainder.

The event raised more than $185,000 or in food terms … $1 raised provides $7 worth of nutritious food for children, families and seniors or each $1 raised can provide four meals.

“This is really a kickoff to the end of year appeal for donations,” says spokesman John Owens. “We want people to know hunger’s still there.”

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Of the one-in-six figure that reflects local residents who are affected, Owens says many find the number surprising.

“It’s sort of hard for people to envision that,” he says. “It really comes down to people asking, ‘How am I going to afford groceries next week?’”

“Cruisin’ to Drive Out Hunger” highlights included a “TasteFest” sampling from metro Detroit restaurants like Beans & Cornbread, Cake Crumbs, California Pizza Kitchen, Maggiano’s Little Italy, MGM Grand Detroit, Social Kitchen and Bar, Treat Dreams, Vinsetta Garage, Zoup! and others. Guest admission also included spirits provided by Gypsy Vodka and Frankenmuth Brewing Co. craft beer. Live entertainment was supplied by Charles and Gwen Scales.

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“It’s sort of a casual celebration,” says Owens. “It just gives people the chance to come in, have some fun, and get the taste of the town if you will.”

Westborn Market, owned by Mark Anusbigian and his family, has been instrumental in the event’s success since its inception.

“That family has just done amazing things for our organization with this particular event,” says Owens.

This year’s fundraiser was also noteworthy for its corporate support, which included more than 30 participants at various contributor levels.

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“We had really a record-breaking sponsorship,” says Owens. “Mercedes Benz Financial Services is a presenting sponsor, and they’ve been friends of ours for a long time, as well.”

Last year the company donated  a 2016 Freightliner (Class 6) refrigerated truck to Forgotten Harvest to help the food rescue organization get much needed fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy products and more to the hungry in metro Detroit. Forgotten Harvest rescued 41 million pounds of food last year.

Founded in 1990, Forgotten Harvest “rescued” more than 40 million pounds of food that would have gone to waste last year by collecting surplus prepared and perishable food from more than 800 grocery stores, fruit and vegetable markets, restaurants, caterers, farmers and other Health Department-approved sources. Food donations are delivered at no cost to more than 250 emergency meal providers in metro Detroit.

Anyone who missed Cruisin’ to Drive Out Hunger can still donate and find other ways to support Forgotten Harvest by visiting

“We’re very pleased with the community support we’ve received over the years,” says Owens.

– Photos by Chris Gustafson

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