Organizers: Donate, volunteer and drink beer to help fight hunger issues

By JAYMIE DEPEW

Journal Staff Writer

MARQUETTE — As teachers and students prepare for the new school year, Feeding America West Michigan prepares and urges others to help people in need. September is Hunger Action Month, a month where people across the country stand together and fight against hunger issues.

For the last 36 years, Feeding America West Michigan has distributed to food pantries, soup kitchens and community centers in 40 counties in West Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.

Marquette County has a 15.1 percent food insecurity rate, according to statistics found on the Feeding America West Michigan website. In the state, 1.49 million people struggle with hunger; slightly more than 397,000 of them are children.

Feeding America West Michigan is committed to feeding those within the community and they’re going to continue to do so, said Sean Little, development associate for the organization.

“September is Hunger Action Month which is centered around hunger in the community,” Little said. “A big thing that we do is advocate and engage the community through awareness.”

Little believes people in the community are unfamiliar with how many struggle with hunger issues, and one of the ways he raises awareness is by working with breweries and restaurants to create campaigns and events where donations are put toward Feeding America West Michigan.

The campaign Hops Against Hunger is a “coalition of Michigan breweries, restaurants and beer geeks working together with local food banks to solve hunger in our state,” according to a press release from the group.

“One of the many reasons people seek out craft breweries is because of their strong local identity,” Little said. “We’ve met so many incredibly generous brewers and restaurant owners who want to get involved in solving hunger locally. And we live in the Great Beer State. What a better way to get people to pay attention and get connected?”

Since its initial kickoff in 2016, Hops Against Hunger raised more than $20,000 to support food banks serving 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, the release states.

The Ore Dock Brewing Company in Marquette, the campaign’s northernmost participant, has been raising money for hunger relief in the Upper Peninsula for years.

Andrea Pernsteiner, co-founder and general manager of the brewery, said the Ore Dock will be hosting their second annual Pack the Pub Night on Sept. 21 where $1 from every pint of True North, a 100 percent Michigan-sourced Hefeweizen, will be donated to Feeding America West Michigan.

“True North features native Michigan malt, hops and, of course, Lake Superior water, which is why we are featuring this beer in our fundraising campaign,” Pernsteiner said.

Last year, breweries and restaurants raised nearly $17,000, which was enough to provide 54,000 meals to people in need in the state of Michigan.

For more information about Hunger Action Month and how to help Feeding America West Michigan, visit www.feedwm.org.

Jaymie Depew can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. Her email address is jdepew@miningjournal.net.