In Washtenaw County, one in seven people struggles with hunger. Food Gatherers, a local food bank and food rescue organization, has worked since 1988 to help remedy this situation.
One of Food Gatherers’ biggest fundraising events is a summer picnic, Grillin’, which brings the community together to raise money for the organization. The event has become Ann Arbor’s unofficial beginning-of-summer celebration.
This year’s Grillin’ will take place on Sunday, June 14 from 3-8 p.m. on the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds in Ann Arbor, located at 5055 Ann Arbor-Saline Rd.
Live music will be headlined by the event’s longtime mainstay, George Bedard and the Kingpins. Other bands featured will be Macpodz and Anna Lee’s Company. Grillin’ will also be broadcast live by Ann Arbor’s FM station 107.1 with Martin Bandyke as master of ceremonies.
There will be a variety of activities including a raffle and silent auction, and programs for children hosted by the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum.
Of course, the main attraction of Grillin’ is the food. More than 50 local restaurants have contributed to the menu, which includes grilled gourmet sausages, chicken, corn, vegetarian burgers, and several side dishes. Zingerman’s Bakehouse and Creamery has donated the desserts, and the bar will feature Michigan wine and draft brews from Arbor Brewing Company. There will be vegan and gluten-free options as well.
Though the event is held outdoors, Eileen Spring, the president and CEO of Food Gatherers, said that it will be happening regardless of weather conditions.
“We have special top-secret rituals we do every year to ensure the weather does not impede the fun and festivities of the event,” she said.
Many of the activities occur indoors in barns on the grounds, so they’ve never canceled due to weather.
“Obviously we appreciate nice weather not just for the enjoyment of our guests, but for our volunteers - more than 100 folks stoke the grills and serve the food, which is hard work especially if it is very hot and humid,” said Spring.
Tickets are available on the Food Gatherers website, foodgatherers.org. Adult tickets are $75 each ($25 is goods and services, the rest is tax deductible), child tickets are $10 each ($5 is goods and services), and children under the age of three get in for free. Be sure to buy tickets in advance, because the door price for the adult tickets is $85.
Tickets are also available by phone at (734) 761-2796, and at the following ticket vendors: Zingerman's Bakehouse, Deli or Roadhouse, Bookbound Bookstore, Dexter Picture Frame Company, and Saline Picture Frame Company.
Proceeds from Grillin' enable Food Gatherers to distribute 13,000 meals a day to adults, seniors, and children who need food.
“Grillin' is always special because it is such an outpouring of community support and generosity,” said Spring. “In a land of plenty, no one should go hungry. The rate of food insecurity in Washtenaw County is 14.7 percent, which means that more than 50,000 of our neighbors are in need of food assistance. Food Gatherers is how this community shares good will and good food.”