Largest Local Food Bank to Change Leadership

By: Rachel Thomas Email
By: Rachel Thomas Email

After nearly 3 decades of supervising the food bank, the American Red Cross wants to step back and leave the Mid-Michigan Food Bank to operate on it's own.

"I think it's critical, we have a group of people focussed only on feeding the hungry," said John Cauley, executive director of the American Red Cross Mid-Michigan Chapter.

The American Red Cross could then focus on its disaster response and blood drive efforts. It's a structure change that food bank leaders say they are ready for.

"Things have changed. We are at that point now, where how we respond to hunger in thecommunity may look different in the future," said director Dave Karr of Mid-Michigan Food Bank

Red Cross directors are considering two options, merging the Mid-Michigan Food Bank with another food bank or establishing itself as a separate nonprofit organization.

"If we can't find another food bank to merge with, then we'll go the 501C3 route of a new independent organization known as Mid-Michigan Food Bank," said Cauley.

Merging with another nonprofit would mean combining services, policies and salary structures. A complicated task that other local food bank directors believe would best benefit the community.

"The Community Food Security Coalition Report suggests that consolidation is better than creating a separate independent food bank," said director Terry Link of the Greater Lansing Food Bank.

Link says joining forces would also eliminate repeat services and reduce confusion in the tri-counties region. It's a plan he's ready to discuss.

"We are open to that and our board is open to that. It's just a matter of sitting down and talking about it," said Link.

Leaders of the Red Cross are committed to making a seemless transition. They say they will choose the best option to continue feeding the hungry in the area.

The American Red Cross Board of Directors say "in a perfect world" they will have a plan by June, but have not set a deadline. Discussions with local food banks, the Food Bank Council of Michigan, Feeding America, and the Red Cross will begin next month.

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