For over 30 years, Forgotten Harvest has been a pioneer in food rescuing and delivering it to local Detroiters who are in need.

Kirk Mayes and his team at Forgotten Harvest are more focused now than ever on ending hunger in Detroit, one helping at a time.

Kirk Mayes, CEO of Forgotten Harvest

EXP: Describe your role as CEO at Forgotten Harvest.

KM: My role is to help make sure that we are going in the right direction strategically. I’ve been able to also provide a vision for the key areas that the team believes Forgotten Harvest can make additional impact with in the community. I am here, along with the experts on our team, to tactically and strategically make sure we fulfil the mission of dedicating ourselves to relieving hunger and ending food waste in Metro Detroit.

EXP: What does it mean to rescue food and how does Forgotten Harvest do it?

KM: What we do in our operation is look for food businesses and food partners throughout the entire food ecosystem that may have items that do not meet their retail specifications but still have life and still have the ability to add value to people who are in need. Being a non profit organization, we can build these relationships and become a first line choice for these businesses to donate that food to us. What we then do is turn it around and resubmit it to organizations that have a food mission to help relieve hunger in the community. Food rescue is really about not letting the valuable food in the community go to waste and instead getting it into the hands of someone who can use it for the purpose it was created.

Kirk Mayes, showing the food rescue process at Forgotten Harvest headquarters

EXP: How did Forgotten Harvest begin?

KM: Forgotten Harvest started with the inspired commitment of Nancy Fishman. 30 plus years ago, Nancy was going through a life transition and she found herself looking at her kids knowing that she was not able to put everything on the table for them to have full meals. She reached out to some food partners, folks who actually give food to those in need. She recognized there were other mothers there and some who had to actually bring their kids with them. Nancy in that moment, made a commitment that when her situation changed, she would do something to help these people, but also help the organizations that were there to help as well. 30 years later, we have Forgotten Harvest.

Forgotten Harvest Founder, Dr. Nancy Fishman (photo credit @forgottenharvest on Instagram)

EXP: Describe Forgotten Harvest in one word.

KM: Love.

EXP: Describe Detroit in one word.

KM: Grit.

EXP: Where is the future of Forgotten Harvest going?

KM: So Forgotten Harvest wants to take the model that we’ve been able to grow over the last 30 years and really start to bring a level of sophistication to how we look at implementing our mission to metro Detroit. Part of what we will be doing is really starting to make the shift to being a more data driven organization. We’ve already made the commitment with our community partners and with a lot of the people in the community that we serve to start collecting data so that we have more information about where people are coming from. This will also give us a perspective on where people are living that are getting served so we can make more dynamic decisions about how we place the food and how we serve the communities. The big operational change for Forgotten Harvest that will enable us to actually fulfill those capabilities is moving into our 77,000 square foot facility.

Kirk Mayes leading his team at Forgotten Harvest. Pictured to the right with Kirk is Johnnie Young

Here is a look firsthand at the work Forgotten Harvest is doing with their mobile pantries serving people in metro Detroit.

Hunger Action Day 2020

Click here to listen to our full podcast interview with Kirk.