Michigan Sugar donates 43,000 pounds of sugar at the United Way Sugar Distribution Day

How many cookies does 43,000 pounds of sugar make? The answer depends on the type of cookie you make, but it’s certainly more sweets than even St. Nick could eat in one night. 

This year, Michigan Sugar gave away 43,000 pounds of sugar on United Way Sugar Distribution Day, held Fri., Oct. 27 at the factory’s 715 McGraw St. location. 

Many of the agencies that received the sugar come back year after year. Much of the sugar goes into holiday food baskets.For several hours, volunteers from the United Way of Bay County and Michigan Sugar helped load the 2-pound bags of sugar into cars and trucks. Michigan Sugar also gave the agencies some individual serving bags of sugar. At the end of the event, Hidden Harvest picked up the remaining sugar to distribute to agencies in Midland and Saginaw counties. 

In all, the sugar went to 74 different food pantries, churches, and other nonprofit organizations in Bay, Arenac, Midland, Saginaw, and Tuscola counties.

Throughout the morning, cars and trucks pulled into the McGraw Street location to fill up with donated sugar.Rob Clark, Director of Communications and Community Relations for Michigan Sugar, says the annual event is timed to get sugar into the hands of families in time for baking season.

“Each organization is receiving more than 500 pounds of sugar today,” Clark says.
“A lot of these organizations do holiday baskets, so it’s perfect for that. The timing is important because it’s right before the holidays.”

Rob Clark from Michigan Sugar climbed into a truck bed to capture a photo of some of the volunteers.The annual event also ties in with National Sugar Day, which was Oct. 14. On that day, Michigan Sugar donated 86,000 pounds of sugar to Hidden Harvest. 

Hidden Harvest, based in Saginaw, focuses on food security in Bay, Midland, and Saginaw counties. In 2022, the agency distributed more than 472,000 pounds of food to Bay County agencies alone. 

The sugar went to 74 nonprofit agencies in a five-county region.In addition to the 129,000 pounds of sugar distributed on National Real Sugar Day and United Way Sugar Distribution Day, the sweet manufacturer also continued its annual Michigan Sugar Home Runs partnership with the Great Lake Loons. Michigan Sugar donated 25 pounds of sugar to Hidden Harvest every time the Great Lakes Loons hit a home run in 2023. That added up to 2,700 pounds of sugar this year.

Each agency received 500 pounds of sugar to distribute to families throughout the region.Clark praised Hidden Harvest for getting sugar into the kitchens of people who need it And he praised the United Way for connecting nonprofit organizations with Michigan Sugar. 

“Sugar is a kitchen staple, but when times are tough, it’s the first thing to go,” Clark says. “Sugar is a key ingredient in just about everything that goes on in a kitchen, so it’s nice to be able to fill that gap, especially with the holidays coming.”

At the end of the event, Hidden Harvest picked up sugar to deliver to agencies in Midland and Saginaw counties.In turn, Samantha McKenzie, President & CEO of Hidden Harvest, says she appreciates what Michigan Sugar does for the community.

"During United Way Sugar Distribution Day, it was awesome to see the Bay County hunger relief partners pull up to the Bay City Milling location and get their vehicles loaded by the United Way volunteers and Michigan Sugar staff," McKenzie says. 

During United Way Sugar Distribution Day, Michigan Sugar gave away 43,000 pounds of sugar. Agencies received 2-pound bags as well as individual serving bags."Our part looks a little different during that day as Hidden Harvest picked up for 47 non-profit programs in Midland and Saginaw counties. The Michigan Sugar team loaded up our truck with pallet loads of product using their fork truck and then we will share out to the partnering agencies along our regular routes over the next week."

Nicole Luczak, President and CEO of the United Way of Bay County, echoes McKenzie's words.

In all, Michigan Sugar gave away more than 120,000 pounds of sugar to nonprofit agencies in October."We are so fortunate to have Michigan Sugar in our community, they are a true leader in corporate social responsibility," Luczak says.

"It is obvious that they invest in our region, and directly align with United Way's focus of making sure every person in thriving. We value this partnership and are thrilled to showcase just one piece of that by coordinating the sugar distribution with so many local food pantries." 

Rob Clark from Michigan Sugar says the manufacturer is committed to getting sugar into the kitchens of people in need.McKenzie adds she's already heard from one recipient of the sugar.

The annual sugar distribution draws praise from both United Way of Bay County and Hidden Harvest."This gift to the community truly means so much," McKenzie says. "We just heard from one of our partners we shared this gift with. It has meant that a grandmother was able to bake cookies with her grandkids. Think of the family traditions in your own life and how special those memories are. Michigan Sugar, United Way, Hidden Harvest, and the food pantry volunteers each had a part in making that happen. The collaboration is truly sweet."
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Read more articles by Kathy Roberts.

Kathy Roberts, a graduate of Central Michigan University, moved to Bay City in 1987 to start a career in the newspaper industry. She was a reporter and editor at the Bay City Times for 15 years before leaving to work at the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, Covenant HealthCare, and Ohno Design. In 2019, she returned to her storytelling roots as the Managing Editor of Route Bay City. When she’s not editing or writing stories, you can find her reading books, knitting, or visiting the bars of Bay County. You can reach Kathy at editor@RouteBayCity.com