Jessica Mathews /

A partnership with local dentists will allow Gleaners Community Food Bank to put food on the table for thousands of people in Livingston County.

The Gold for Food Program was begun by Dr. Fredric Bonine in 1996. When patients have teeth extracted, they are asked if they would like to donate any precious metals such as gold, silver, platinum, or palladium that may be contained within.

The teeth are collected over the year by participating dentists in the area and then sent to Atlantic Precious Metals - a refinery in Leetsdale, Pennsylvania. The proceeds are then donated to Gleaners Community Food Bank of Livingston County.

This year, dentists collected a total of $23,740.86 in metal. That amount was then matched by Kroger’s for a total donation of $47,481.72.

Since the inception of the Gold for Food Program, a total of $526,711.34 has been donated to benefit the hungry of Livingston County.

Dr. Bonine told WHMI this is their 26th year and the program has now generated over half a million dollars mining gold from mouths in Livingston County, with the matching funds, and he questions why this isn’t being done in more communities across the country. He says the program has expanded over the years, with 12 dentists participating this year, but he would encourage more to participate.

Bridget Brown is the Director of Food Secure Livingston for Gleaners. She says the donation received will provide 142,445 meals.

Brown says last month alone at Shared Harvest Pantry & Fresh Market in Genoa Township they served 1,236 families and almost 3,700 individuals. She says they’ve been pretty much maxed out in every service they provide and the donation will help them not only continue what they’re doing but also try to reach others that have never been to the pantry before. Brown stressed that all of the dentists have been very supportive and the program has really become a critical piece to the holidays coming together for them to assist those in need in Livingston County.

Local dentists in that participate in the Gold for Food Program include Dr. Bonine, Dr. Brad Rondeau, Dr. Virginia Eick, Dr. Matthew Matuszak, Dr. Walter Goodell, Dr. Tara Wilson, Dr. Todd Charlick, Dr. Melissa Shalhoub, Dr. Michelle Andrusyszyn, Dr. Christina Scanlon, Dr. Jonathan Birchmeier, Dr. John G. Keeton, Dr. Gwynne Attarian, and Dr. Elizabeth Prast.

Those who are anticipating dental extractions in the coming future are encouraged to ask their dentist if they are participating in the program, as those that do see it as a wonderful way to repurpose, recycle, and help hungry neighbors.