Comstock Park, Mich. — Michigan’s food banks are encouraging supporters to raise a glass for hunger relief this September.
The campaign is called Hops Against Hunger, and it unites the state’s breweries and beer geeks with food banks serving those in need. All month, Michigan breweries will be hosting fundraisers to support the work of the state’s seven Feeding America-member food banks. Forty breweries, beer bars and restaurants from metro Detroit to Marquette are taking part.
“September is Hunger Action Month,” said Sean Little, development associate for Feeding America West Michigan, a food bank based in the Grand Rapids area. “Food banks like ours are asking people to volunteer, donate, contact their elected officials and take a whole host of actions to support our cause. We loved the idea of throwing brewery fundraisers into the mix and hopefully reaching a lot of people who might be totally new to food banking and hunger relief.”
“As we’ve begun building relationships with breweries, we’ve found that it’s an easy sell. They really care about this issue,” Little said.
According to the latest data from Feeding America, 1.49 million people are food insecure in Michigan, meaning they struggle to get enough food to lead a healthy life. That’s 15.1 percent of the population.
Since the Hops Against Hunger initiative kicked off in 2016, it’s raised more than $20,000 to support the food banks serving those people. A dozen establishments took part last year, and that number has risen to 40, showing a growing commitment to hunger relief in the state’s brewing community.
Carrie Veldman, sustainability coordinator for BarFly Ventures, the company behind Grand Rapids Brewing Company and HopCat, says the motivation is simple. “By partnering with local nonprofits such as Feeding America, breweries and bars have the opportunity to invest in the community that has spent time and money investing in them.”
Grand Rapids Brewing Company and all six HopCat locations in Michigan are participating in Hops Against Hunger, each in support of the food bank serving their community.
Veldman says the partnership makes sense, because the food bank model of rescuing good surplus food and putting it to use is closely aligned with BarFly’s own waste-reduction practices. “Food recovery is one of our central values,” she said.
“Here in the U.S., our food waste is estimated at about 40 percent and we’re working to change this within our walls,” Veldman continued. “We’ve started a program at all of our locations where we donate any extra food we’ve acquired from beer dinners or monthly features to our local Feeding America food banks. All food that cannot be donated, like fruit and vegetable scraps and leftovers, is composted, so instead of rotting in a landfill, our food scraps can become nutrient-rich soil!”
Like many Hops Against Hunger participants, each BarFly location will be donating proceeds from one beer throughout the month. HopCat’s brand-new Royal Oak location, for example, will donate $1 from every pint of All Day IPA from Founders Brewing Company to Gleaners Community Food Bank.
Others, like Greenbush Brewing Company in Sawyer, are organizing one-day events. On Friday, Sept. 22, Greenbush will host their second-annual Harvest Party, featuring live music, a bratwurst-grilling competition and the release of a beer brewed in collaboration with food bank staff.
“We wanted to give breweries the freedom to put their own stamp on it. We’ve seen some breweries come to us with really cool ideas and we love that their events are highlighting the diversity of the craft beer scene in Michigan,” Little said.
The Food Bank of South Central Michigan, for example, is working with the Kalamazoo Brew Bus to organize a pub crawl with several area breweries and beer bars on Sept. 28.
Ore Dock Brewing Company of Marquette, the campaign’s northernmost participant, has been raising money for hunger relief in the Upper Peninsula for years. They will be hosting a Pack the Pub Night on Sept. 21, when $1 from every pint of True North will be donated.
“We pride ourselves on being a community-minded business and that means lending a hand wherever we can,” said Adam Robarge, production and branding manager for Ore Dock. “Quite simply, having access to healthy food is a basic necessity that absolutely no one should have to go without.”
Information about participating breweries, events and Michigan’s food banks can be found at HopsAgainstHungerMI.org.
Hops Against Hunger Participants
Feeding America West Michigan Beards Brewery Burnt Marshmallow Brewing Creston Brewery Grand Armory Brewing Grand Rapids Brewing Company Greenbush Brewing Company Harmony Hall HopCat Grand Rapids New Holland Brewing Company North Pier Brewing Company Ore Dock Brewing Company Pigeon Hill Brewing Company Silver Harbor Brewing Company Terra GR Restaurant The Livery Microbrewery The Mitten Brewing Company The Sovengard Tripelroot Watermark Brewing Company
Food Gatherers HopCat Ann Arbor
Food Bank of South Central Michigan Arcadia Ales Kalamazoo Brite Eyes Brewing Company The Distant Whistle Grand River Brewery HopCat Kalamazoo Kalamazoo Brew Bus Territorial Brewing Company
Food Bank of Eastern Michigan Loggers Brewing Company Michigan on Main Bar and Grill Table and Tap Tenacity Brewing Tri-City Brewing Company
Forgotten Harvest HopCat Detroit
Gleaners Community Food Bank Farmington Brewing Company HopCat Royal Oak
Greater Lansing Food Bank EagleMonk Pub and Brewery Ellison Brewery and Spirits HopCat East Lansing Lansing Brewing Company Ozone’s Brewhouse
About Feeding America West Michigan. The Hops Against Hunger campaign was created by Feeding America West Michigan in 2016. Serving local families in need since 1981, Feeding America West Michigan reclaims safe surplus food from farmers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers. That food is distributed through a network of more than 900 food pantries, youth programs, and other hunger-relief agencies in 40 counties from the Indiana border through the Upper Peninsula. Each year, an estimated 492,100 people receive food from Feeding America West Michigan. For more information, visit FeedWM.org.
About Hops Against Hunger. Hops Against Hunger is a campaign uniting Michigan’s craft beer community with food banks serving those in need. Forty breweries, beer bars and restaurants are raising money for Michigan’s seven Feeding America-affiliated food banks during Hunger Action Month this September. Together, these food banks provide food to a network of thousands of local food pantries, soup kitchens, senior centers, and schools in every one of Michigan’s 83 counties. To learn more about Hops Against Hunger and to find a participating brewery near you, visit HopsAgainstHungerMI.org.