Sacred Heart Community Service Agency
A broad smile from Sacred Heart's Bridget Hayden greets children as they enter the center's Homework Club. A loving embrace comes next and she asks, "How was school today?" As the children talk about their successes and challenges, Bridget listens intently, offering praise and words of encouragement.
Monday through Thursday, the 75 club participants, consisting of students from local schools, bring their homework and, with help of qualified volunteers, work on and complete their assignments. According to Bridget, the program focuses on not just academic achievement, but social and emotional growth as well.
To keep their energy up and focus sharp, these children benefit from the food Sacred Heart receives from Second Harvest.
"We are grateful for the Food Bank," says Bridget. "Thanks to their support, we receive a variety of healthy snacks like granola bars and vegetable chips. Today, the kids are being served fresh fruit salad and milk."
In addition to their Homework Club, Sacred Heart hosts an academic summer day camp. This program offers core academic subjects such as reading and math, as well as enrichment programs including creative writing, art, photography, and computer design. Second Harvest provides food for lunches and snacks to children attending the day camp. Considered a "wrap-around" agency, Sacred Heart's services do not stop with children. They offer adult education classes where students take computer classes to learn valuable office skills. English as a Second Language courses and parent education classes are also offered. To help people find jobs, Sacred Heart has a service called JobLink.
"People often come to us to access our essential services such as housing, clothing, and food assistance," says Bridget, "but we look ahead and see if we can come up with plans to help them become self-sufficient through education, job training, and employment assistance."
Last year, Second Harvest provided 2.2 million pounds of food to Sacred Heart's after-school, summer, and pantry programs combined.
Sacred Heart is one of the 328 partner non-profit agencies benefitting from Second Harvest's Food Assistance Program, which provides food to shelters, pantries, soup kitchens, educational organizations, and community-based safety net organizations. These agencies service low-income populations from Daly City to Gilroy, and from the coast to the Bay.
Because of its size, Second Harvest is able to work with food manufacturers and growers to accept donations that would be too large for a smaller non-profit to accommodate.
"Our partner agencies do not have the space or infrastructure to accept a truckload of carrots, for example," said Cindy McCown, Senior Director of Programs and Services at the Food Bank.
Once received, Second Harvest allocates portions of the product to their partner agencies. In addition, Second Harvest is able to leverage their bulk buying power and use donated dollars to purchase large quantities of food, usually perishable items such as milk, eggs, and chicken, of which portions are also allocated to partner agencies.
Besides purchased food and large product donations, the Food Bank receives millions of pounds of donated, non-perishable food from the community. These donations go through a rigorous quality control process at the Food Bank where the integrity of the packaging and expiration dates are checked. The food is sorted by type and distributed to partner agencies.
"Because we are in the business of sourcing, collecting, and distributing food, we can accomplish these tasks with great efficiency, which benefits our partner agencies and allows them to use their limited resources to provide other core services such as clothing and housing assistance," said Cindy.
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