Man on mission to feed Metro Detroit's hungry
Bill Birndorf has one mission this summer —
to feed as many hungry families in Metro Detroit as possible.
Birndorf is the founder of Higher Hopes! and over the next five months, the Detroit-based charity will distribute 7,000 meals to families with children enrolled in Early Head Start, Head Start and Great Start Readiness programs.
"I want to help families who are in need," he said. “The meal kits we donate helps lessen the financial burden the families have. This frees up much-needed money to pay other bills like rent, utilities, gasoline for their cars and clothing.”
Birndorf, owner of Commerce Township-based Apple Marketing Co., came up with the idea for the nonprofit Thanksgiving in 2013 after seeing a news story about people in the city who were struggling to buy food for the holidays .
“I decided to start this program so that families can enjoy healthy and nutritious dinners in their own homes without having to visit shelters to feed their families,” he said.
Families receive meal kits on a financial-need basis decided by their child’s Head Start program director. The families arrange to pick up their meal kits at their child’s Head Start program.
Meal kits include 10 pounds of chicken or beef, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, juice, and canned goods — enough to make 15 to 20 meals.
The nonprofit hopes to hand out 280,000 pounds of donated food to families this year.
Higher Hopes! is supported by Gleaners and Project Healthy Community, a Detroit-based charity that helps organize volunteers pack and deliver meal kits.
It also has 30 corporate sponsors, 100 individuals and charitable foundations, such as the Dresner Foundation and the William and Audrey Farber Foundation.
“The program is also great for Detroit families because it helps provide ongoing assistance during a period of the year that doesn’t get much attention on providing food to underserved families,” Birndorf said.
Sally Bond, director of development at Development Centers Inc., said the effort helps the center's students and their families during the summer months.
“The summer comes at times when many children do not have access to food provided by their school, so the timing is great,” Bond said. “Also, the food is a normalizing activity for these kids.
"Most families prepare summer barbecues. Often, low-income children miss out on this opportunity. So for them, it is an experience that allows them to participate in the same traditions as other children.”
Kayla Morris, 29, of Detroit said the food has been a blessing for her family.
“Finding the Development Center has helped me out a whole lot, especially nowadays, when my hours have been cut short at my job,” she said. “I wasn’t able to complete a meal for my son on most weeks, so the food that we receive now is a blessing.”
Bond said she hopes the effort continues to grow.
“It would be great to have the opportunity for families with limited access to transportation have the food delivered to them,” she said. “Transportation continues to be a barrier for so many families in Detroit neighborhoods. The home delivery would be a welcome surprise.”
For information about Higher Hopes! or to make food or monetary donations, call (248) 360-9300, email firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.higherhopesdetroit.org.