Organizations: Midwest Food Bank
In 2003, an Illinois farm family was distressed to read in the newspaper that local food pantries were running short on inventory. They became determined to help meet those needs by handing out food from their own barn.
That initial mission has since grown into a faith-based nonprofit called the Midwest Food Bank, which distributed 50 million pounds – or $116 million worth – of food in 2015, and expanded its operations into several states.
The local division, which opened in 2011, is in Peachtree City. This operation serves 49 counties in five states to the tune of $1 million in food distributed every month, with about $200,000 of it landing in Fulton County monthly.
“We run a multimillion-dollar operation here,” says Midwest Food Bank – Georgia’s Executive Director Will Garner, “and we use a staff of only four full-time people to manage it. But a big part of our success is our volunteers. We have 4,028 volunteers who donate 38,750 hours of their time a year.”
Partnering with socially conscious national manufacturers, grocers and food establishments, this army of helpers gets the goods – typically unsold but quality food that would otherwise be thrown away when taken off the shelves – to nonprofits, churches, food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters and other organizations working to address hunger and food insecurity. All of the food is handed out free of charge.
“No donation of food is too small for us,” Garner says. “We have kids who do can drives. Right now, we could use more local and regional providers.”
Charity Navigator, an independent charity evaluator, has ranked the cost-efficiency of the Midwest Food Bank in its top 9 percent of organizations nationwide and given it the highest rating for the sixth consecutive year.
“Amazing what has happened in 15 short years,” Garner says. “From a humble beginning in a machine shed on a farm in Illinois, now we are in seven different cities. We want people all over Georgia to get to know us so we can impact more communities throughout the state.”