Thanks for the forgotten harvest

Thursday 27 November 2014 by Kim Hessell

The Detroit DS team at Forgotten Harvest

Frameworker days give our people the opportunity to do something different that challenges them or to do something worthwhile for others (or sometimes both)...

As Americans sit down to dinner with their loved ones this Thanksgiving, Kim recounts how a day with fellow Frameworkers Amy, Heather and Stacia at local food repurposing center Forgotten Harvest has given them extra reason to be grateful.

With retailers falling over each other to offer “Black Friday” promotions and TV networks cramming in back-to-back football games, it’s easy to forget the true meaning of Thanksgiving. Of course, the origins of the holiday date back 400 years, to what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts, when the Pilgrims and Puritans gave thanks for a bountiful harvest.

Fast-forward four centuries and our need for sustenance hasn’t changed. But those of us fortunate enough to have fully-stocked cupboards can sometimes take our food for granted. Nearly a fifth of households in Michigan are classed as “living in poverty” and nearly 750,000 receive food stamp assistance. Yet more food than ever is going to waste, illustrated by the increasing number of environmental activists uncovering thousands of dollars worth of leftovers deemed as waste in a craze known as “dumpster dining”.

Waste not, want not

Thankfully, there are non-profit organizations in the Detroit area looking to address this imbalance. Forgotten Harvest was founded in 1990 with the aim of feeding the less fortunate by collecting leftover food from grocery stores, restaurants and markets and redistributing it, to ensure that little – if anything – goes to waste.

Forgotten Harvest has made incredible progress, repurposing 48.8 million pounds of food last year and delivering it to nearly 300 emergency food providers throughout the Detroit Metro area. I, along with my colleagues Stacia, Amy and Heather, wanted to be a part of the charity’s success and give a little bit back to the Detroit metropolitan community – so we volunteered to work at Forgotten Harvest’s food packaging warehouse in Oak Park, MI for our Frameworker day.

Working together

When we arrived at the factory, it was heartening to see such a mix of volunteers. There were groups of colleagues like us taking a day out to help, working alongside families and friends dedicating their time. After a short orientation, we took to the factory floor and began packing.

The food of the day was meat sticks. We were taking bulk shipments of surplus stock. The process was simple: receive the stock, break down the wrapping, repackage into family-sized servings and place on pallets ready for distribution throughout the Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. Forgotten Harvest delivers to a wide variety of locations including soup kitchens, shelters for the homeless and senior centers.

The four of us, alongside the host of other volunteers, had to become a well-oiled machine in order to process the amounts of food coming through the factory doors. And it was genuinely heartening to see everyone working together for the greater good.

We left the factory with a real sense of pride and satisfaction, having played a small part in helping this worthwhile organization to continue its commendable work. And as the four of us settle down with our families and loved ones this Thanksgiving, we won’t be preoccupied by what deal we’re going to snare online or what game we’ll be watching on TV. Sometimes you have to give a little back to remember why you’re giving thanks.

Hear more from Sheri about Frameworker days.


  • Frameworker days
  • Charity
  • Thanksgiving