Resilient: Because No One Should Go Hungry
The recession is over. That's what the analysts say, anyway, and there are definite signs of recovery here in Silicon Valley and on the Peninsula. The housing market is back on track, stock prices are rising, and some tech companies are seeing record profits. Yet the number of local families struggling to put food on the table has stayed stubbornly high.
The economic recovery has been uneven, and the cost of living in our twocounty area is rising. The sad truth is that many working families make too much to qualify for government help, but too little to make ends meet in an area where apartment rents alone average more than $2,000 per month.
As was true for many of our clients, the past year at Second Harvest required us to be resilient. Even as the numbers of people needing food grew, we were determined to build a sturdier foundation to deal with continuing uncertainty.
While we worked, we hoped.
We hoped that the calls for help would slowly wane. We hoped that the pantries and soup kitchens that rely on Second Harvest for the vast majority of their food every week would report that fewer people were showing up for help.
We hoped that we would hear more about successes, and fewer stories of men, women and children who had reached the limits of their own resources and needed food from Second Harvest and our distribution partners to survive.
While we hoped for the best, we prepared for the worst.
Unfortunately our hopes were dashed when the number of people we provided food to last year actually increased by 4%. Today more than one in 10 of our neighbors receive at least some of their food from Second Harvest Food Bank. This is over and above the 50% increase in demand that we experienced at the beginning of the recession.
So we worked to optimize our new fresh produce facility. We ramped up our efforts to connect people to food from all sources. We re-engineered our supply chain to improve efficiency and maximize impact. We stepped up our game... again.
Our hearts were heavy.
We knew that more than a quarter of a million people and 330 local nonprofits were relying on us for food. Without Second Harvest, soup kitchen refrigerators, pantry shelves and far too many family dinner tables would be bare.
So we got to work.
We "rescued" food from every source we could find – from farmers, manufacturers and grocery stores. We forged new partnerships and strengthened old ones. We finalized a three-year strategic plan – focused on efficiency, technology and community leadership – to guide us as we navigate through this "new normal."
We dramatically increased our distribution of fresh produce, and showed families how to cook healthier meals. We began piloting an "online marketplace" to directly connect sources of excess food to soup kitchens. When local shelters were forced to cut back, we dug deep to address specific food needs among the homeless. We continued to obsess about operational efficiency, so that we could plow every penny back into our mission: providing food to people in need.
With your help, we were here for the people in our community.
How did we do? In the past year, Second Harvest provided more than a million pounds of healthy food per week, a 16% increase, while reducing our cost per pound by 6%.
But we could not have done so without you. You showed up for us on so many levels. You volunteered. You donated. You did for Second Harvest Food Bank what we do for those we serve. You gave us hope and strengthened our resolve. You helped us provide something so basic, yet so necessary – healthy food – for hundreds of thousands of our neighbors.
Thank you for helping us to ensure that every person who needs a meal can get one.
Chief Executive Officer