Food Gatherers cancels annual Grillin’ fundraiser, launches matching campaign

Credit: Food Gatherers

ANN ARBOR – Food Gatherers has canceled its biggest annual event “Grillin’ for Food Gatherers” for the second year in a row due to COVID-19 safety concerns.

In the event’s absence, Washtenaw County’s food rescue and food bank organization has launched a matching campaign to address urgent and rising food insecurity in the community.

Grillin’ for Food Gatherer’s is a large outdoor picnic and fundraiser supported by local businesses and foundations to help alleviate hunger in Washtenaw County. Each year, more than 1,400 people attend the event at the Washtenaw County Fairgrounds.

“When we cancelled Grillin’ 2020, we were in the midst of a crisis unlike anything our organization had experienced before,” Food Gatherers President and CEO, Eileen Spring, said in a release. “Our immediate response was to focus on helping our partner agencies stay open and distribute needed food to the community as safely as possible.

“One year later, our neighbors are still struggling, food insecurity rates remain high, and Food Gatherers anticipates our elevated response will be necessary for at least 18 months, if not longer.”

Read: Ann Arbor’s Food Gatherers addresses record-breaking food insecurity during pandemic

In an effort to boost its ongoing COVID-19 response, Food Gatherers’ new campaign will see all donations up to $35,000 matched 1:1 by the Harold and Kay Peplau Family Fund.

Donations can be made online at, by phone at 734-761- 2796 or by mailing a check payable to Food Gatherers to P.O. Box 131037 Ann Arbor, MI 48113.

The pandemic caused Food Gatherers to distribute a record breaking 7.8 million pounds of food during Fiscal Year 2020 (July 1, 2019-June 30, 2020) as a growing number of residents began seeking food assistance for the first time ever.

Read: Food Gatherers’ Eileen Spring named local United Way’s Woman of the Year

The food bank has already exceeded its goal of distributing 8 million pounds of food for Fiscal Year 2021.

“We are proud that many of our community sponsors have committed to support Food Gatherers in lieu of a Grillin’ sponsorship this year,” Spring said in a statement. “We hope you will read through the lists below and support these local businesses generously.”

Click here for a full list of Grillin’ sponsors

Food Gatherers recently launched a new website which features a Find Food tool for those who are in need of food in Washtenaw County. To see a map an da list of meal programs and food pantries in the county, visit

About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.