ReGrow Together: Tackling hunger and food waste

The USDA estimates that the United States wastes 30-40 percent of its food supply. However, thanks to the efforts of the United Way of Midland and 11 other local partners, these numbers are being reduced through the successful ReGrow Together program. 

Originally branded as ReGrow Midland, the program was launched in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It helped to provide affordable, nutritious meals to the community while also supporting local restaurants that were struggling with closures and restrictions. However, with the reopening of businesses, it seemed like the program would end.

“We were down to the last $10,000,” says Executive Director Jason Story. “We were planning on how best it could serve the community.” Thankfully, United Way of Midland picked up the program and relaunched in 2023 during the Dow Championship as Regrow Together. 

What ReGrow Together does

ReGrow Together is working to address hunger and reduce food waste in creative ways by collaborating with Windover High School and the Arnold Center for food preparation. Students learn culinary and job skills while being given the opportunity to work with unique ingredients. 

Excess food supplies come from Hidden Harvest’s Rescue and Redistribution Program, the Midland County Emergency Food Pantry, and the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan. In addition, Phoenix Community Farm and Arnold Farms provide fresh produce for meals.

Once the ready-to-eat meals are prepared and packaged, they are distributed at no cost through local family centers. The current meal distribution partners are West Midland Family Center, Greater Midland North Family Center, and Greater Midland Coleman Family Center. 

Other resources

Families who struggle with food insecurity lack the nutrients they need to perform their best at work or school and improve their lives. To help combat this, each meal recipient can connect with educational, health, and other resources through 2-1-1 and other United Way partners.

“When you’re hungry, nothing else matters,” Story explains. “It’s hard to find a support group or focus on mental health when you don’t know where your next meal will come from.” 

Going forward

In February, ReGrow Together received an $85,000 community impact grant from the Midland Area Community Foundation. This grant has helped United Way invest in its culinary partners to work toward their goal of making 1,000 meals a month. It will also help the organization expand into other areas and offer meals at more locations.

United Way collaborates with Hidden Harvest, Midland County Emergency Food Pantry, Phoenix Community Farm, Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, Arnold Center, MyMichigan Health, Windover High School, Midland Business Alliance, West Midland Family Center, Greater Midland North Family Center, Greater Midland Coleman Family Center to bring this program to our community.


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Read more articles by Misty Barron.

Misty Barron is a Mid-Michigan native who has proudly called Midland her home for the past six years. She served as Editor-in-Chief for the Delta Collegiate, where she earned various awards for her writing, including Journalist of the Year in 2023 from the Michigan Community College Press Association. In her free time, Misty enjoys spending time with family and friends and enjoying all our beautiful state has to offer.