As Michigan residents face bleak economic times, Forgotten Harvest is helping out Michigan residents, one meal at a time. Forgotten Harvest rescues surplus perishable food that otherwise would be thrown away and delivers that food to 150 different soup kitchens, shelters and pantries throughout Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. It's been over eight years since Executive Director Susan Ellis Goodell joined Forgotten Harvest, and her dedication to its mission has helped propel the organization forward. Forgotten Harvest runs like a business, and Goodell quickly points out the facts and figures relevant to the organization.
"According to the USDA, 96 billion pounds of food get thrown away every year," said Goodell. "That's one quarter of all the food that's produced in the country. If we could just rescue 5 percent of what gets thrown into landfills and feed our people, there would be no hunger in America, period."
Goodell joined Forgotten Harvest in 2001. Since then, the organization has gone from rescuing just over a million pounds of food to rescuing over nine and a half million pounds of food in their fiscal year. Goodell says the organization likes to grow by about a million pounds each year, but this year, Forgotten Harvest is working extra hard.
"We are likely to grow by at least two and a half million pounds this year because the need is so off the charts," said Goodell. "At the same time, we've been growing the amount of food available in the community. We have been growing the number of soup kitchens, shelters and pantries that get that food."
The common sense implicit in Forgotten Harvest's mission appeals to Goodell's New England upbringing. "It just doesn't make sense to throw away perfectly good food when people down the street can't feed their families," she said.
Throwing away food has negative environmental and social effects. Food that goes into a landfill in anaerobic conditions creates methane gas, one of the most damaging greenhouse gases on the planet.
Forgotten Harvest rescues "the good stuff" - fresh meat, dairy, fruits and vegetables. Food that keeps people healthy and well nourished, providing the right nutrients and protein needed for humans to develop properly. According to Goodell, brain development does not happen in the absence of protein, and there are more than 219,000 children in metro Detroit that are living in poverty.