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Cookin’ for a cause: Forgotten Harvest fundraiser features Pampered Chef CEO to help feed the hungry

Nora Moroun

When Nora Moroun was a little girl growing up in Pennsylvania she watched her Grandma Nora open her door to feed the hungry. During lunch she would sometimes fix an additional sandwich and put it in a bag with an apple for a hungry person at the door.

“Grandma asked me pray at night that someone else would leave the door open (for a hungry person),” Moroun says.

“To honor her memory and the lessons she passed on to me, I donated the use of my 125-acre family farmland in Fenton in 2013 to grow fresh vegetables in partnership with Forgotten Harvest to help feed the hungry in our community.”

This rock, a tribute to Nora Moroun’s grandmother, overlooks the crops. It quotes Isiah 58:10,11 “Feed the hungry. Help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness and the darkness around you shall be bright as day. And the Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy you with all good things, and keep you healthy, too; and you will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.”

This rock, a tribute to Nora Moroun’s grandmother, overlooks the crops. It quotes Isiah 58:10,11 “Feed the hungry. Help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness and the darkness around you shall be bright as day. And the Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy you with all good things, and keep you healthy, too; and you will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.”

Since that time, with the help of three staff members and more than 8,000 volunteers, Forgotten Harvest Farms has provided more than 3.5 million pounds of fresh, healthy, locally-grown produce free of charge to children, families and seniors in need in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties.

The need is great. Today one out of six people in metro Detroit face hunger.

On October 25 two unique Women’s Harvest events titled “Forgotten Harvest Farms to Hungry Tables: Feeding the Hungry in Southeastern Michigan,” will raise money that will help the farm do even more. The Women’s Harvest Breakfast at the Detroit Athletic Club runs from 7 – 9:15 a.m.  The Women’s Harvest Dinner at the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club runs from 6 – 9:30 p.m.

Doris Christopher, founder and chairman of Pampered Chef, who is donating her services, will be the keynote speaker at both. Her remarks are entitled “Passion, Purpose and Philanthropy – One Meal and One Memory at a Time.” Both events will offer time for networking as well as a Q&A with Christopher.  There will also be an opportunity to purchase Pampered Chef products at both events and online, with 30 percent of the proceeds from these sales benefitting the Forgotten Harvest Farm.

Tickets for the breakfast are $125 each. Tickets for the dinner are $150 each.  Pricing for those 35 years and younger is available.  All monies raised will go to the Forgotten Harvest Farms.

“The synergy for this event was obvious from the start,” says Kirk Mayes, Forgotten Harvest CEO. “Doris Christopher started her multimillion dollar business based on her passion to preserve family mealtime and provide families the tools they needed to prepare healthy, delicious meals. Forgotten Harvest Farms was founded with those same ideals – that every family deserves access to fresh, healthy food, no matter their means.  We are so pleased to be able to bring these two organizations – Pampered Chef and Forgotten Harvest Farms – together for two outstanding events.”

This year Forgotten Harvest Farms planted 15 different crops, up from nine last year, including corn, kale, watermelon, squash, zucchini, beets, turnips and potatoes. The farm has 104 tillable acres.

Here are a couple of quick examples of the yield. So far this year the farm has harvested 170,000 pounds of corn, 12,000 pounds of watermelon, 20,000 pounds of zucchini and more than 22,000 pounds of kale and expects to harvest a total of 30,000 pounds of kale the end of the growing season, according to Mike Yancho, farm manager.

Nora Moroun and Mike Yancho, farm manager, make a great team.

Nora Moroun and Mike Yancho, farm manager, make a great team.

These crops, along with many others, are picked by volunteers – 2,500 so far this year – representing companies, organizations, churches, families and individuals. They put on their sunscreen and work clothes and spend the day making a difference in the lives of their neighbors in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties, the areas Forgotten Harvest serves. To learn more about volunteering please click here.

“We put out the word and people will come,” says Yancho.

That says a lot for people in metro Detroit. They want to make a difference and are willing to give of their time, talent and treasure.

The farm also has a 30,000-square-foot greenhouse on wheels that can be moved from place to place. Getting it to the farm was Kevin Cragg’s Eagle Project. In 2016, the then 14-year-old Notre Dame Prep student, inspired by a trip to the farm two years earlier, raised more than $17,000 from friends, family and corporations to purchase a Rolling Thunder Greenhouse. Cragg, along with his parents and a host of other scouts, helped install the greenhouse.

The 30,000-square-foot greenhouse on wheels can be moved from place to place. It is currently growing eggplant.

The 30,000-square-foot greenhouse on wheels can be moved from place to place. It is currently growing eggplant.

The greenhouse, which measures 30 ft. by 96 ft., can roll over to other plots of land to allow more versatility for farmers to plant more produce for longer periods of time. The extra supply of food will then be delivered to the homes of needy citizens in the community who are in need of a healthy supply of food.

The greenhouse is currently growing eggplant.

The Women’s Harvest events will help Forgotten Harvest Farms plant even more nutritious crops that will feed those in need in metro Detroit.

“Metro Detroit women will not want to miss an opportunity to hear from one of our country’s foremost female entrepreneurs as well as network with similarly minded women in their community,” said event co-chair Nancy Gandelot. “Whether you are an entrepreneur with your own start up, working hard to climb the corporate ladder or just passionate about helping your community, these events are not to be missed.  By providing both a breakfast and dinner event, we hope to reach more women who can benefit from and enjoy these experiences.”

Forgotten Harvest Farms is an essential part of the Forgotten Harvest mission to alleviate hunger in metro Detroit. In addition to the farm, Forgotten Harvest “rescues” more than 45.8 million pounds of food every year, by collecting surplus prepared and perishable food from more than 800 sources, including grocery stores, fruit and vegetable markets, restaurants, caterers, dairies, farmers, wholesale food distributors and other Health Department-approved sources.  This donated food, which would otherwise go to waste, is delivered free-of-charge to more than 250 emergency food providers in the Metro Detroit area.

Forgotten Harvest has kept both its front and back doors open for 27 years and its work is far from done.

“We should not be proud that we still have people and children going to bed hungry,” Forgotten Harvest founder Dr. Nancy Fishman has said. “We will be here until every child is fed.”

To purchase tickets please click here. Sponsorship packages are also available.

— Reprinted with permission from TheHUB Detroit.

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