GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A West Michigan nonprofit is sending a quarter of a million meals to Ukraine.
Jenison-based Sus Manos Gleaners packed and shipped the 250,000 servings of dehydrated produce Wednesday.
“Sending food to Ukraine, this is a first time for us,” human resources director Carrie Hill said.
Founded in 2008, Sus Manos Gleaners dehydrates excess produce donated by local farmers, sending the nutritional meals to the hungry in countries like Haiti and Mexico. It recently got an urgent request from Ukraine.
“(They) said, ‘We need food, we’re desperate, we’ll come get it next week,'” Hill said. “We answered that call with a lot of volunteers and it’s just been an incredible week to see that all come together.”
Once shipped, Hill said partnering agency Barnabas Aid will distribute it to Ukrainians in need.
“People sheltering in place will get a box that has every kind of produce in it that they’ll then be able to make a soup or a stew,” Hill said.
Thanks to the generosity of West Michigan farmers, Sus Manos Gleaners has plenty of produce. It is volunteers that are in short supply.
“Sending money is great, but when you can actually roll up your sleeves and do something, it’s amazing,” Hill said.
This past week has brought many first-time volunteers, including the JV softball team from Unity Christian High School.
The team helped prepare the shipment, relabeling the food packages with instructions in Ukrainian and Russian.
“Seeing them feel empowered that they can change the world… from West Michigan is a huge motivational factor and it keeps us going,” Hill said.
*Correction: A previous version of this article misstated which partnering agency helps Sus Manos distribute food. While Sus Manos does do some work with the Barnabas Foundation, it partners with Barnabas Aid to distribute food. We regret the error, which has been fixed.