Outnumber Hunger: Feeding America needs more farmers

COMSTOCK PARK, Mich. (WZZM) -- Earlier this week, we showed you how West Michigan farmers are contributing to the effort to "Outnumber Hunger."

In 2013, 6.3 million pounds of produce helped out Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank.

Helen Dietrich is one of 50 local farmers who drops extra produce off at Feeding America's local warehouse in Comstock Park. Usually, the Dietrich Orchards trucks ship over the one million apples annually, but spring is a slow time of year.

"There are times when we run very close to running out of produce," said Ken Estelle, CEO Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank.

Nearly everything is out of season. But Estelle says their other issue is demand.

"The need in the area is increasing," he said. "We distributed more food last year than any other year in the history of the food bank."

He says though the economy is improving, wages aren't high enough.

"They may have jobs but they just simply don't have enough money to meet all their needs."

He needs enough produce for 40 mobile pantries a week. New farmers stepped up last year to bring in an extra 560,000 pounds, but because not all the food bank's produce comes from Michigan, Estelle thinks there's more fruits and vegetables out there to help feed the hungry.

"There are literally hundreds of farms in this immediate area that are producing this type of product," he said. "We have a lot of wonderful farmers but our project is really to find more."

After California, Michigan is the most agriculturally diverse state in the country. (USDA)

The hope is farmers can help provide fresh, nutritious, but expensive food the working poor usually cannot afford to buy.

A one-hour concert to benefit the "Outnumber Hunger" effort airs Friday night on WZZM 13.
It starts at 8 p.m. and features country stars like Florida-Georgia Line, Rascal Flatts, and Danielle Bradbury.
Outnumber Hunger


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