Second Harvest-Fighting Hunger, Feeding Hope
First, I got a tour of Second Harvest’s warehouse by Heidi Moll, Second Harvest’s Marketing Manager. I had been to Second Harvest before but did not realize how big their facility was. A lot of food moves in and out of Second Harvest’s warehouse, each day. Throughout the week, major donors drop off palettes of food. Five semi-loads of fresh produce move through the warehouse weekly.
Second Harvest’s purpose is to bring community resources together to feed people in need. It reaches 26 counties – 21 in Eastern Washington and 5 in Northern Idaho. A common misconception about Second Harvest is that they are a food bank and that the bulk of the food they hand out is non-perishable food items. In fact, however, 75 percent of the food Second Harvest receives and distributes is fresh meat and produce from grocery stores and farmers and wholesalers.
Second Harvest provides services to over 250 food bank and meal sites, providing around 2 million pounds of free food each month. Another interesting thing I learned from my trip to Second Harvest is that 99% of services and donations go directly to help feed people in need throughout the Inland Northwest.
Second Harvest has a profound impact in the community, not only by distributing to 250 food banks, but also through the other programs they offer, such as the Mobile Food Bank, The Kitchen, Bite2Go, and School Pantry. Heidi believes that “hunger isn’t something that is going to go away. At Second Harvest, we want to help close the gap and provide access to food and nutrition information, while addressing the issue of hunger.”
After my tour of Second Harvest’s warehouse, I met Erin, Second Harvest’s Volunteer Coordinator, and I spent the rest of my afternoon packaging food for Bite2Go. Bite2Go is a service that Second Harvest provides to at-risk children in school so that they won’t miss a meal over the weekend. Teachers request meals for students they believe are in need of a meal Saturday through Sunday and discreetly put a packaged meal from Second Harvest in their backpacks on Friday to ensure that the child will get food over the weekend. Second Harvest distributes 3,000 packed meals from Bite2Go each week. Each package has 2 milks, 2 entrees, 2 cereals, a cereal bar, a fruit leather, a pretzel package, and a sunbutter cup (substitute for peanut butter for those with food allergies).
Packing these lunches was harder than I thought it would be. It involved lifting 15-pound boxes to the conveyor belt and making sure that each lunch was properly packed. I un-packaged the foods that would be put into the children’s bagged meals. Erin was extremely helpful in the Volunteer Center; she managed the conveyor belt, helped bring in food items, broke down boxes and made sure everyone kept busy and on task. Throughout the three hours of packaging meals, we as a team prepared almost 2,000 meals that would be distributed to children in need. Erin loves the work she is involved in at Second Harvest and helping to provide food to those in need. As a Spokane native, she said, she did not realize “how bad the need for food was in the community, and how many people are in need of help.”
You can help those in need and join the fight against hunger at the Hunger Run on April 2nd!