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Campaign raises over $57K for hungry, looks ahead to luncheon

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Food Bank to honor partners and advance Million Meal March campaign at Nov. 1 luncheon.
Underwriting support from:

Marching Against Hunger

The Food Bank's Million Meal March was inaugurated on Sept. 29 with a 10K hike on the White Pine Trail. Some 250 people attended.

The day was enlivened with music from West Michigan bands Hawks and Owls, Suburban 5&10, and Chinese Baseball. Rockford's Corner Bar, Country Fresh, and Pepsi provided lunch, ice cream, and water.

To see a gallery of images from the hike, visit

Hikers line up for hotdogs from The Corner Bar.

Hikers line up for hotdogs from The Corner Bar. /Feeding America West Michigan

White Pine Trail, packed with hikers.

White Pine Trail, packed with hikers. /Feeding America West Michigan

By the time the last hiker had crossed the finish line at Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank’s Million Meal March Trail Hike on Sept. 29, the campaign had raised over $57,000 to fight hunger. Encouraged by the turnout, the Food Bank staff has high expectations for its Million Meal March Awards Luncheon at the The Goei Center on Nov. 1.

“This entire campaign has impressed me with how much West Michigan cares about the hungry in our midst,” said Ken Estelle, Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank’s chief executive officer.

The Million Meal March is the Food Bank’s six-month campaign to send an additional 1 million meals to families in need across West Michigan. The cost to do that is $238,000; with four and a half months left, the campaign is almost a quarter of the way to reaching that goal.

“This luncheon is an opportunity to spread the news about this campaign and at the same time draw attention to the good work being done to keep our operation running,” Estelle said.

The Food Bank will present awards for excellence in four categories: volunteer, agency, food donor, and financial supporter. Several other partners will be recognized, including Payton, the 10-year-old Twin Lake girl recently featured on The Huffington Post for her anti-hunger work in Muskegon County.

Writer and documentarian Ali Benjamin will deliver the luncheon’s keynote address. Benjamin is a widely published food and science writer whose television special Growing Hope Against Hunger won the 2012 Emmy for Outstanding Children’s Nonfiction Program.

“Ali knocked my socks off when I heard her speak at [Feeding America’s] Mobilizing the Public conference,” said Linda Vanderbaan, fund development manager at Feeding America West Michigan. “It was a call to action. You could not walk away and say, ‘Oh, that was nice.’ Ali Benjamin makes people take a stand and do something about hunger in their community.”

Although the luncheon is free to attend, Feeding America West Michigan will accept donations to advance the Million Meal March. Those interested in getting a seat at the luncheon may contact Linda Vanderbaan at 616-389-6356 or [email protected] by Oct. 26.

The luncheon begins at 11:30 a.m. and will conclude no later than 1:15 p.m. The Goei Center is located at 818 Butterworth Street Southwest in Grand Rapids. Valet parking is available.

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