TRAVERSE CITY — Homer Nye and wife Becky Mang weren’t able to accept an award for their exemplary volunteer leadership because the two inveterate volunteers were out of the country … volunteering.
“We were in Cuba,” Becky said, “on a mission trip.”
The two recently received Goodwill Industries of Northern Michigan's Mary Stanton Award, in part, for their tireless efforts and leadership with the Food Rescue program, which they were instrumental in establishing in the region. They saw a need to feed the hungry, they said, at the same time food was being thrown away.
Food Rescue, established in 2008, takes food from local grocery stores and markets that would normally throw it away and distributes it to food pantries in the area. The program started with just two participating stores, Oleson’s and Oryana in Traverse City, and has grown to include almost every market in five counties, plus several farms and farmers, said Brendon Seng, Food Rescue director.
“The food that grocery stores are donating is not food customers are going to see,” he said. “It’s too close to the expiration date. Stores have a choice: let it go bad and throw it in the dumpster or give it to Food Rescue before it goes bad.
“When Homer and Becky first got Food Rescue up and running, we collected 600 pounds of food a week and delivered it to families in Grand Traverse County,” Seng said. “Fast forward to today. We are collecting and delivering 33,000 pounds of food a week and feeding many, many hungry people in five counties. It had to start somewhere, and it started with these two people.”
The Mary Stanton Award is given annually to those who best exemplify the spirit of Goodwill and Goodwill’s mission statement, said George Powell, Food Rescue co-founder and Advisory Board member, who accepted the award on Nye and Mang's behalf at Goodwill's “In Unity with Community” luncheon in March.