Over the last year there has been an increase in the amount of people that have needed food assistance. Second Harvest of the Greater Valley, formerly known as Second Harvest Food Bank of San Joaquin and Stanislaus Counties, has not only had to change some of their distribution methods to serve the community but they also had a recent name change.
“For the last year prior to the pandemic we were distributing around 230,000 pounds of food per week,” stated CEO Keenon Krick. “We are averaging now just under 400,000 pounds of food per week that we are distributing out in the community.”
Second Harvest is a part of the Feeding America organization that is partnered with 200 food banks nationwide. Krick explained that Feeding America is the vehicle that helps provide fundraising support, advocacy at the federal level, and networks the food banks to ensure food safety and the proper handling of the food that is provided by their corporate grocery partners.
The corporate grocery partners with Feeding America have dedicated their leftover food to be distributed to the food banks that are in turn distributed to the community.
“Everything that comes through here is donated,” noted Krick. “There is nothing bought or sold. It is just the food that comes here. We represent not just San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties; we actually represent through the Feeding America network six other counties, Amador, Alpine, Calaveras, Merced, Mariposa, and Tuolumne counties. We provide support for four other food banks that work with us in a partnership.”
Although Second Harvest directly serves San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties they also provide support and food to the six other counties and four partnering food banks, which was cause for the name change.
Second Harvest has a staff of about 23 along with Krick and Executive Assistant and Development Director Jessica Vaughan and a number of volunteers.
There is meaning behind the new logo as well that Vaughan explained was important to them to have representation of their partnerships with the California Association of Food Banks and Feeding America, including the colors and the orange at the top. The four dots on the orange represent the four Partner Distribution Organizations and the green leaves are for San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties along with the bottom half representing the valley that they serve.
“We wanted it to be something special,” said Vaughan. “So we put some thought into it and kind of went through the brainstorming process. We think it is a really beautiful themed logo. It has a lot of meaning to us. We are really excited about it.”
The Mobile Fresh program that put the Farmer’s Market on wheels had to be shut down due to COVID. The mobile program would go out into the community three to four days a week. They would open up the trailer and folks would be able to browse the produce and food and select what they wanted.
Second Harvest introduced a new box style drive thru distribution to fill the need of the community. They rely on about 15 to 20 volunteers each day that assist in packaging the food boxes prior to distribution.
“Luckily our volunteers and staff moved quickly to modify distribution and we are now doing drive through distributions 250 cars at a time,” added Krick. “We do three to four distributions per week and sometimes on the weekend especially if we have an overabundance of food here at the food bank and we want to get it out to the community. Jessica does a really great job of advertising it ahead of time and almost every time we end up with 250 cars lined up ready to receive food.”
Vaughan added that another volunteer, Nancy, has been at the majority of distributions and shared her perspective that they have built a special relationship with the public over the past year. Vaughan said, “I think that is something really important especially in a time when human connection is at an all-time low.”
They partner with the senior center and provide food to the C.A.R.E. pantry in Escalon. In Riverbank they have agency partners and the mobile fresh program. They have multiple partners in Oakdale and pantry representation.
They are also planning a St. Patrick’s Day Drive Thru Dinner Fundraiser from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at 1220 Vanderbilt Circle in Manteca. The annual Empty Bowls Benefit will return this year with some changes.
For more information visit localfoodbank.org.