Message from CEO Leslie Bacho

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Together we can end hunger

The power of food-banking is our ability to bring people together around this important cause and scale our resources to have a tremendous impact. I'm proud to be playing a role, leading one of the largest and most innovative food banks in the nation. Together, we are serving more people than ever before — an average of more than 257,000 kids, families, and seniors every month. But there is still more to do. I joined Second Harvest at a pivotal time for the Food Bank as the number of people who need food continues to rise. There are another 450,000 people in our community we are not yet reaching who are at risk for hunger.

The local hunger problem is huge despite the immense wealth in what is considered the epicenter of technology and innovation. It's what we call the Silicon Valley hunger paradox — as the economy grows, so does the number of people who need food. The recent tech boom has caused the cost of housing to soar, while wages have remained relatively flat for those outside the tech industry. That means more and more hardworking families simply can't afford to pay rent and put food on the table. That doesn't bode well for our community because nutritious food is the foundation for a healthy, productive life.

The good news is Second Harvest is in a strong position to tackle the growing problem of hunger in Silicon Valley. We have enhanced our operations, enabling us to increase the amount of food we provide by more than 1 million meals last year. Expansion efforts at our Curtner Center will support an expected 30-percent increase in shelf-stable, cold, and frozen food pounds over the next five years. We are also growing the number of distribution sites, particularly school pantries, so people can access the nutritious food they need right in their own neighborhoods. We now have more than 900 food distribution sites in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.

Although we are making headway, we know hunger is just too big to solve with traditional food-banking alone. And with the Silicon Valley hunger paradox, it's not expected to get better anytime soon. That's why Second Harvest will continue to grow our capacity to distribute healthy food while exploring new and innovative ways to connect more people to food. We are intensifying our efforts to collaborate with other organizations and leverage existing resources.

For example, we launched a school breakfast initiative to encourage more schools in high-need areas to provide federally funded school breakfasts. We are partnering with libraries and youth camps to ensure that kids can eat during the summer through the federal summer food service program.

At the end of the day, our work is about the people — kids who struggle at school because their stomachs are empty, parents who go without food so their kids can eat, and seniors on fixed incomes who can't afford nutritious food. It's also about the people who come together every day to fight hunger — donors, volunteers, and staff. I'm honored to be among you. Together we are ensuring that anyone in our community who needs a healthy meal can get one. With everything happening in the world today, sometimes we can feel powerless. Local hunger is a problem we can actually do something about. Together we can solve hunger. Thank you for your continued support and partnership.

Leslie Bacho
Chief Executive Officer
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