The Farm Bureau Insurance of Michigan Agent Charitable Fund has donated $41,400 to seven regional food banks amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The donations will help the food banks continue to meet the increasing demands for food assistance throughout their county service areas.
The donations are a result of ACF’s “Fill the Trailer” fundraiser held during the annual Farm Bureau Insurance of Michigan Marketing Convention in February, where $20,700 was raised in only 24 hours by more than 200 Farm Bureau insurance agents and supporters.
This, coupled with a generous match from Farm Bureau Insurance, allowed ACF to donate $5,914.28 to each of the seven regional food banks throughout Michigan. The food banks are:
- Food Bank of Eastern Michigan (Flint)
- Food Bank of South Central Michigan (Battle Creek)
- Gleaners (southeastern Michigan)
- Forgotten Harvest (Oak Park, Detroit)
- Food Gatherers (Ann Arbor)
- Feeding America West Michigan (Comstock Park)
- Greater Lansing Food Bank (Lansing)
“Community involvement is not something you teach for business purposes,” says Tom Biljan, who is a Farm Bureau Insurance managing partner and sits on the ACF committee, which provides grants to local schools and nonprofits in support of programs that aim to address food insecurity among children in Michigan.
“We have a duty and obligation as human beings to take care of one another, not just in crisis, but especially in crisis. We are fortunate that we are in a position to be able to provide and protect those around us.”
With this donation of close to $42,000, it brings ACF’s donation total to $148,630 since its inception in 2018.
Ben Noyce, a Farm Bureau Insurance agent based in Davison, Mich., was instrumental in the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan receiving a donation. FBEM serves Genesee County as well, along with 21 additional counties in northeast and central-lower Michigan and the thumb area.
“With so many kids relying on breakfast and lunch during the school year, it’s vital this is not interrupted because of the school closings,” Noyce says. “Along with other organizations, ACF is stepping up to help those children in need during this difficult time. We cannot do this on our own. The people of Michigan can come together to help, not only during this crisis, but in the future as well.”
FBEM uses its BackPack Program to provide extra support on weekends for children who receive free or reduced-priced lunches at school by supplying a backpack full of nutritious and easy-to-prepare foods for children to take home on the weekends. With schools now closed, they’ll look to other methods of getting needed meals to children and adults, as well.
“Our current reality is that closures of schools, businesses and other institutions that we rely on will continue to disrupt our daily lives and routines,” says Kara Ross, president and CEO of FBEM.
There are more than 284,000 people who are food insecure in the 40-county service area served by Feeding America West Michigan, stretching south to north in the western Lower Peninsula, and east to west in the Upper Peninsula.
“Families are trying to navigate work schedules and businesses being shut down while children are also out of school,” says Jodi Fritzsche, a Farm Bureau Insurance regional associate managing partner based in Berrien County, Mich. "Knowing where the next meal might come from, especially during such a challenging and unprecedented time, is overwhelming.” Fritzsche is among a team of more than 430 agents committed to ending hunger in Michigan.
Individuals can make a donation in support of the Agent Charitable Fund at endhungerinmichigan.org.