Food Gatherers cancels Grillin’ 2020, launches matching fundraiser to meet rising demand

Ann Arbor — For the first time in its 31 year history, Food Gatherers has canceled “Grillin’ for Food Gatherers”, the organization’s annual fundraiser to help alleviate hunger in Washtenaw County. The large outdoor picnic, which hosts more than 1,400 attendees for a day of live music, entertainment, and food from local restaurants and businesses, raises an estimated $250,000 each year. The event was scheduled for June 14th, 2020 but ultimately could not continue as planned due to COVID-19 public health restrictions.

“While we would normally be preparing to host one of our largest fundraisers of the year, we are facing a reality where it may be months before we can gather in large groups. With that in mind, I am sad to share that Grillin’ 2020 is canceled as our community responds to the COVID-19 crisis,” said Food Gatherers President and CEO, Eileen Spring.

Founded more than 30 years ago by Zingerman’s Deli, Food Gatherers’ growth and success is largely due to the incredible generosity of food businesses of all shapes and sizes, and generous sponsors of Grillin’ and other events. “The list of food donors and sponsors who committed to Grillin’ 2020 is long,” says Spring, “and we hope that you will continue to support them generously during this unprecedented time.”

Food Gatherers has launched a matching campaign to meet the increased need and all donations, up to $50,000, will be matched 1:1 by generous community donors Ashley and Jon Oberheide. Donations will support Food Gatherers’ COVID-19 response. Donors can give online HERE

The fundraiser comes at a time when food pantries and meal programs are in high demand. In the last two months, Food Gatherers’ partner programs have reported a 30%-300% increase in demand. In April, Food Gatherers distributed a record-breaking amount of food in our community, the largest one-month total in 31 years and an increase of 30% from an average month.
The increased demand for food assistance also coincides with new challenges to food bank operations and supply chains across the country. “This crisis has upended our business model,”
said Spring. “Overnight we lost half of our food supply and half of our labor force, which is comprised of volunteers.”

As a result, Food Gatherers pivoted quickly to expand its partnerships with local businesses for donations of prepared meals and bulk products, and partnered with Michigan Medicine on a food and PPE donation drive. At its warehouse, ten National Guard members are deployed to sort donated food and package emergency food boxes in place of regular volunteers.

Food Gatherers encourages anyone who needs food to visit their website, to find a map and list of pantries and meal programs in Washtenaw County. Updates on the food bank’s COVID-19 response and details on how to get involved can be found HERE

Grillin’ 2020 sponsors:
Busch’s Fresh Food Market, Domino’s, Dunning Toyota & Subaru, Faurecia, Josh Pokempner & Gretchen Gardner, The Kroger Co. of MI, The Mosaic Foundation of, R. and P. Heydon, NSF International, Om of Medicine, Zingerman’s Community of Businesses, Airport Plaza, Blue Cross Blue Shield of MI, Farm Bureau Insurance of MI, Agent Charitable Fund, Soble Rowe Krichbaum, Bank of Ann Arbor, The Bloom Family, The Courtyard Shops, Drew Fitzmorris & Associates, DTE Foundation, First Choice Chiropractic, Lake Trust Credit Union, Old National Bank, Wilkinson Foundation, Altruic Advisors, Arbor Trust Wealth Advisors, Columbia Asset Management, Home Helper LLC, Hooper Hathaway P.C., McKinley Companies, Phoenix Contractors, Inc., Reinhart Realtors, Robertson Morrison Inc., Bookbound Bookstore, Home Point Financial, Hylant, IHA, Jim Lee & Terri Wilkerson, O&W, Inc., Plante Moran PLLC, Retirement Income Solutions Inc., Steve & Judy Dobson, UHY LLP, U-M Credit Union, Washtenaw Community College, Bill Dufek, State Farm Insurance Agency, Cardamom Restaurant, Farm Bureau Insurance, Ferguson Widmayer & Clark PC, Taste the Local Difference, Varsity Automotive, WSR Certified Public Accountants

Grillin’ 2020 food donors:
Afternoon Delight Café, Arctic Glacier, The Brinery, Café Zola, Calder Dairy, Casey’s Tavern, Cherry Republic of Ann Arbor, Clancy’s Fancy, Conor O’Neill’s, Domino’s Pizza, Fabulous Food Inc., Food Art, Inc., Food Gatherers, Fresh Thyme, Frog Holler Produce, Grange Kitchen & Bar, Guernsey Farms Dairy, Knight’s Steakhouse, Michigan Catering, Monahan’s Seafood Market, People’s Food Co-op, The Quarter Bistro, Red Hawk Bar & Grill, Satchel’s BBQ, Silvio’s, The Standard Bistro, Tios Mexican Café, United Meat & Deli, The Wurst Bar, Zingerman’s Delicatessen, Zingerman’s Roadhouse, Zola Bistro, Arbor Springs Water Co., Busch’s Fresh Food Market, Coffee Express Co., Cultivate, Everyday Wines, Gordon Food Service, Imperial Beverage, Lagunitas Brewery, O&W, Inc., Salt Springs, Short’s Brewery, TeaHaus, Mity Nice Italian Ice, Zingerman’s Bakehouse, Zingerman’s Creamery

About Food Gatherers
Food Gatherers’ mission is to alleviate hunger in Washtenaw County. As the food bank and food rescue program for the county, we distribute more than 6.6 million pounds of food to 170 non-profit programs serving approximately 44,500 low-income adults, seniors, and children every year. For a list of our partner programs, or to learn how you can become involved in the fight against hunger locally, please visit or call (734) 761-2796.