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The Rapid Kicks Off ‘Stuff the Bus’ Campaign to help Feed the Hungry

Goal of Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank partnership is to collect canned goods and non-perishables from Nov. 21–Dec. 1 that will fill a bus

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Interurban Transit Partnership (The Rapid) and Feeding America West Michigan (FAWM) Food Bank launched a first-ever food collection campaign today called “Stuff the Bus” that asks Grand Rapids-area residents to donate canned goods and other non-perishable food items to help feed the hungry.

As part of the campaign to spur donations, the Rapid and FAWM are sponsoring two free showings of the classic holiday film “The Polar Express” on Saturday, Dec. 2, at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the Wealthy Theatre, 1130 Wealthy Street SE in Grand Rapids.

The afternoon matinee has already sold out in two hours last week through a social media promotion. Free tickets for the 10 a.m. showing while supplies last are available at Eventbrite.com, and search for The Polar Express in Grand Rapids.

Attendees of the movies are encouraged to bring food contributions to the Wealthy Theatre, where The Rapid will accept donations beginning at 9 a.m. to help “Stuff the Bus” in front on the venue and have their photos taken on the bus. Cash donations also will be accepted and logged with receipts available upon request.

Even for those not interested in attending the film, donors can still participate in the “Stuff the Bus” campaign by dropping off their non-perishable food gifts before Dec. 1 at participating partner locations (see list below), which The Rapid and FAWM staff will collect.

“Our goal is to bring Kent County families together and make giving a fun activity to help our community’s most vulnerable citizens going into the holiday season,” said Michael Bulthuis, The Rapid’s Marketing and Communication Manager.

“Filling The Rapid’s bus will help hundreds of Greater Grand Rapids families who are struggling with hunger this winter season,” Bulthuis said. “Public support for this campaign has already been incredible through social media activity, but that bus is big and we really hope the Greater Grand Rapids community will help us meet our goal.”

Feeding America West Michigan, The Rapid’s campaign partner, is a nonprofit organization devoted to fighting hunger. Every year, Feeding America West Michigan helps nearly half a million hungry Michigan residents, with 28.9 million pounds of food – the equivalent of about 24 million meals – delivered in 2016 alone.

“We exist to ensure safe food is available to every hungry person in our community,” said Ken Estelle, President and CEO at Feeding America West Michigan. “You usually can’t tell by looking at someone that they’re hungry. It affects about 1 in 8 people from all backgrounds in all communities. For kids, that number is about 1 in 5.”

Feeding America West Michigan reclaims surplus food from farmers, retailers and manufacturers, then distributes it to a network of more than 1,000 hunger-relief agencies across West Michigan and the Upper Peninsula, including food pantries, soup kitchens, after-school programs and senior centers.

“We’re proud to partner with The Rapid on this important campaign to help Michigan families this holiday season,” Estelle said. “Many people deal with hunger issues all year long, so it’s always nice to get a little more awareness.”

“The Polar Express” is a groundbreaking 2004 animated film that was one of the first to use motion-capture technology. The film is based on the acclaimed children’s book of the same name, which was partially set in Grand Rapids. Collection starts today and runs through Friday, Dec. 1.

To make your donation to “Stuff the Bus,” go to one of these locations:

Grand Rapids Community Media Center
711 Bridge NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504
1110 Wealthy SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49504

The Rapid
300 Ellsworth Ave SW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Wealthy Theatre
1130 Wealthy SE, Grand Rapids MI, 49504

Why 100s of Flint Area Workers are being Bused into Livingston County

Photo: Gillis Benedict/Livingston Daily

Most people sit alone, plugged into earbuds, scrolling through Facebook or grabbing a nap as the comfortable commuter bus hums along the highway during the 40-minute ride from Flint to Howell.

Belinda Patrick and William Paschal of Flint are the exception, sitting close, almost leaning into one another. They share a home, ride the same bus and work the same shift at Grupo Antolin North America, an automotive supplier in Howell Township.

“I usually sleep. Or balance my budget. Stuff like that,” said Patrick, one of hundreds of Genesee County residents now using Flint’s Mass Transportation Authority for a ride to and from jobs in Howell, Brighton and the Lansing area. “It’s a cool down time, you know, a chance to sit back and let someone else do the driving.”

Livingston County business and community leaders say the bus program helps mitigate a labor crunch that has employers scrambling to fill shifts, competing for workers and recently left one large manufacturer pondering a move out of Livingston County.

The labor shortage issue surfaced in 2015 after a survey of Livingston County employers indicated many – especially manufacturers – had more entry-level jobs than they could fill and needed help getting people to and from work.

In fact, data compiled by Ann Arbor SPARK shows a whopping 75% increase in Livingston County manufacturing jobs over a four-year period. In 2012, a total of 7,186 positions existed among the county’s 400 manufacturers. By 2016, the number had risen to 12,573.

Continue reading at Livingston Daily: Why 100s of Flint Area Workers are being Bused into Livingston County by Laura Colvin

COMTO National Meeting & Training Conference

The Committee of Minority Transportation Officials will hold its 2017 Annual Meeting and Training Conference July 14 - 18 in Detroit. This year’s theme is a timely and interesting one, “Smart Transportation”.

Those interested can access the link below for details to attend as a new member, non-member, sponsor, exhibitor, advertiser, or presenter.

http://www.comto.org/page/2017conference

MTA Receives Innovation in Transportation Award

The Innovation in Transportation Award was presented to the Mass Transportation Authority at the Howell Chamber Annual Meeting held on Thursday, January 26th . The award was given in recognition of the partnership that has formed between the various partners and the counties. The Chamber identified 300-400 new employees that have started jobs in the Howell community as the result of this new transportation program. Additional employers are working with the MTA to expand service further and address the needs of several hundred workers from the Flint/Genesee area that will commute to Howell/Livingston County daily.

In December 2015, business, nonprofit and transportation officials partnered to connect job needs in Livingston County to Flint residents who were willing to work, but had no vehicle to get to the job location. The public-private partnership is something that the Mass Transportation Authority has been involved since the agency started regional transportation. Since 1997, the MTA has transported workers to jobs in different counties. As the counties demographics and jobs change, the need for regional transportation continues to grow. “It’s my estimation that within the next year our work related commuter services, now serving 7 counties, will grow to 5000 unique riders per day and 10,000 individual trips, generating 2-3 million work related trips annually,” Ed Benning, MTA General Manager/CEO, said. “The Howell Chamber has been a great partner in this new service expansion and we appreciate this opportunity.”

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