Hidden Harvest, a food bank in Saginaw, helps provide a ray of hope for hungry families by rescuing unused food and providing it to community organizations in the region.
The success of that mission is easier to see each day, thanks to a recent energy efficiency grant from Consumers Energy.
In 2017, the company provided more than $30,000 to install new, energy-efficient lighting in Hidden Harvest’s Saginaw headquarters. That’s made each task — from tracking orders and operating heavy equipment in the warehouse to checking expiration dates on canned food — just a little brighter.
“It’s a huge amount of improvements to the building and it’s awesome,” said Samantha McKenzie, president and chief executive officer of Hidden Harvest. “It’s so much brighter, easier to see and safer. Consumers Energy has made that possible.”
Hidden Harvest collects unused food from local restaurants, grocery stores, farmers, produce distributors and bakeries. The organization then pairs the food with shelters, pantries, youth centers and other organizations in Saginaw, Bay and Midland counties.
Each year, Hidden Harvest helps about 175 local agencies provide food for more than 80,000 local families.
The group was exploring options to improve the lighting at its headquarters — also home to the city’s East Side Soup Kitchen — when we offered a free energy assessment of the building. That process revealed the possibility of helping with a larger energy efficiency project.
McKenzie, a veteran of seeking grants for nonprofits, initially feared the process would be time-consuming but was pleasantly surprised.
“Consumers Energy made it super easy compared to writing grants and that was a savings in itself,” McKenzie said.
The work, performed by a local contractor, included more than 300 new energy-efficient LED bulbs installed in more than 140 interior light fixtures throughout the Hidden Harvest headquarters. The upgrades are projected to save the nonprofit about $3,500 and more than 27,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity each year.
Now, Hidden Harvest is helping with our “Buy a Bulb, Give a Bulb” initiative, an effort to give 180,000 LED bulbs to food banks throughout the state — one for every bulb sold in October. Hidden Harvest is helping to distribute 25,000 LED bulbs in the Saginaw area along with the food it delivers.
“It’s so wonderful,” McKenzie said. “The food pantries we serve are helping families who can save money on a couple boxes of light bulbs and put that toward their most basic needs. And the process is seamless. Everyone we’d want to reach is already receiving deliveries from us or coming to our warehouse.”
Learn more about how energy efficiency programs can help your nonprofit at ConsumersEnergy.com/startsaving
Get a glimpse inside Hidden Harvest to see how the Saginaw food bank is making a positive impact in the lives of thousands of local families.
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