Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Second Harvest Food Bank. Making A Difference, By Being Dedicated.

It has been said that empathy for others is what the world lacks. While the before mentioned statement can truthfully be said for a large number of Earth’s inhabitants, there are still hundreds of millions of people, who breathe, eat and sleep strictly to help another individual see the light of the next day.

Our Nation, as mighty and as strong as it may be, is facing one of the worst economic depressions it has ever faced in its existence.
The trend for people to go to sleep hungry, has become commonplace in a world, where the million dollar question is “do I purchase food, pay my rent or buy the medication I need to survive?”

Without any end in sight to the issues of hunger the world is facing, reputable Food Banks and the outlets they help supply have become far more important than ever imaginable.

We took a moment to stop by Second Harvest Food Bank (a proud member of the Feeding America network) which, is geared towards doing just as their name states, FEED AMERICA, to speak with Tracylyn  Sharrit, the Director of Operations and ask just what Food Banks mean to the people of the communities they serve.

Networked into her position, Tracylyn  found herself being sought after, because she had a no nonsense personality and a serious dedication to anyone in need. Having the realistic understanding of the important role she would be playing, as Director of Operations for a company that positively affects millions of peoples lives, she knew she was always going to “have a full plate” from here on in.

Originally a Foster Child herself, Tracylyn  refers to her days of struggle as the foundation for her unrelenting support to end hunger, “I know what it is like to be hungry, I am 1 of 5 children, who had a mother who struggled to do the best she could and when she no longer could, we ended up in Foster Care.”

“It is pretty addicting to get involved in hunger relief. Its one of those things, that every time I go to work, I get to go back and save myself, because by the grace of God I am alive. So I must do what I can to make sure that people don’t have to pretend that it is OK to go to bed hungry. There are 4 things in life you need to survive, Love, Air, Water & Food, everything else is gravy.”
Tracylyn  stated when asked what drives her forward with such a daunting task every day.

The time is now for people to reach out and do what they can to help those in need. Statistics taken from a report published by Feeding America in 2010, state:
·       Of the 37 million people fed annually by Feeding America, nearly 14 million of them were children and approximately 3 million of them were seniors.
·       Feeding America food banks provide food and groceries to 33,500 food pantries, 4,500 soup kitchens and 3,600 emergency shelters.
·       68 percent of the pantries, 42 percent of the soup kitchens, and 15 percent of the emergency shelters rely solely on volunteers and have no paid staff.
·       55 percent of {the agencies}, are faith-based agencies affiliated with churches, mosques, synagogues and other religious organizations; 33 percent are other types of nonprofit organizations.
The methods in which people can get involved have dramatically changed over the last decade or so; from being social advocates about your local food bank to donating your time just helping out inside the warehouse, both are always greatly needed and appreciated.

Touring the massive 56,000 sq. ft facility you could almost come up lost, if it weren’t for the dedicated staff of Target’s logistics team who came in and designed a sure fire system to help keep track of every bit of product that goes in and out of the doors and delivery bays of Second Harvest Food Bank. 
With food deliveries arriving by the multiple truck-load (at that moment a monstrous bread delivery courtesy of the good folks at Stater Bros was being delivered) a streamlined inventory process is a must.
It was apparently clear how helpful these systems were in instances where food and product recalls had to be made, such as last years peanut fiasco that rendered millions of products useless nationwide.
In a situation such as that, Second Harvest Food Bank was able to quickly reach out to everyone they had donated possibly contaminated peanut products too and ask to have the products brought back or destroyed.

Second Harvest Food Bank does not allow any of the food to go to waste either. Systems have been set in place to ensure the FIFO System (First In, First Out) gets all the perishable items in the hands of the people well before they see an expiration date.

The dedication from food conglomerates, local farmers, national purveyors and retail outlets to donate quality food was just amazing.  Seeing the plethora of food ranging from huge wheels of gourmet cheeses and choice cuts of meat on down to the multiple loads of designer drinks made it abundantly clear that even the big boys know donating their goods, helps the world move forward.

Over 450 various agencies shop at Second Harvest Food Bank, all of them Non-Profits, who simply wish to serve the good of the people. Second Harvest Food Bank feeds an estimated 300,000 people a month through their various network of agencies, they hope to be one day soon operate out of a 100,000 sq. ft facility, “just think of the possibilities at that point” states Tracylyn .

The majority of Second Harvest Food Bank’s money comes by way of donations from the community. Doing multiple direct to mail flyers so people can see directly where their money is going is really helpful. Those are the flyers where you will see something along the lines of for $1.00 you will provide 13 meals to hungry children and seniors, and those have proven quite successful for them. They are also tied in with Feeding America, which only helps to strengthen and broaden their name in the community.

To know that the blood, sweat and tears behind what is feeding our homeless shelters, abused / battered women’s shelters, foster homes, community food pantries, churches and everyone else that provide free food to the community, do this job for little to no pay, is a fact that needs to be spoken on.
These Food Banks, do not sit on stockpiles of cash and donations, every penny that comes in, is accounted for and spent according to what is needed.

The current economic downslide has plagued every facet of life in America, forcing people to work 3 or 4 jobs at one time and still find themselves barely able to make ends meet. There is also the factor that some people tend to take advantage of these kinds of situations, by creating false charities or misappropriating funds, making people skeptical about donating their hard earned dollars to any kind of charity or organization.

“Our administrative costs are at 1%. When you look and you see that is how a Non Profit is being ran, you know they truly are working for the good of the community. I take it extremely personal the fiduciary duties I have with every dollar that comes and goes through those doors. I do not play with community money, if I don’t take my job seriously, then a child or a senior goes hungry and I own that responsibility, as does every single person who works in this office.”

“It isn’t that we aren’t food rich in the Inland Empire, a lot of business and headquarters to major food corporations are in our counties and we are the first ones they call when they wish to donate, and they do donate by the tons. The problem is that we are funding poor, where we have trouble covering the operating costs and day-to-day costs of running such a business as this.”

A few facts & bullet-points about Second Harvest Food Bank:

·       USDA Food Commodities is distributed through their Food Bank, as well as they have 2 senior programs (1 is State funded and the other is Federally funded.)
These are the types of things that allow a senior who is being forced to make the decision of whether to buy life sustaining medication or food, the ability to easily have both.
And many people fail to realize we are free today, because of the sweat and hard work those seniors put into our Nation many years ago.

·       Children don’t understand why they are hungry, but they do understand that they are hungry. And they realize how bad they feel when they do ask for food, so eventually they stop asking. Some children in the Inland Empire are either getting their only meal or their healthiest meal while they in line for lunch during the school day. When they go home, they go hungry.
Depending on the demographics of the home and if the parents are even doing their job.

·       Second Harvest Food Bank has started a program in conjunction with some collaborative associations in San Bernardino, where children are taking backpacks full of food home on Fridays and bringing them back empty on Monday.
They are attempting to expand that program, so that every child who has a backpack can also take a box of food home, full of meals that can be prepared during the week for them to eat.

·       Best Items To Donate - non dented, properly dated canned foods. Never frozen meats, proteins, we don’t take anything that has been frozen or that is cold, dry stock goods, completely packaged and never opened dry goods as long as it dated correctly. We also take diapers, sundries and hair products.
The thing about donating the before mentioned goods are that they must be packaged completely separate from your food donations or they will have to refuse the food.

·       Worst Items To Donate -homemade canned goods. Bless their hearts, people sit in their kitchens making jams and stuff and we cannot distribute it because we cannot guarantee what it is in it.  We also take gleaned fruit that is fresh off the tree, we will take those. We just cannot take homemade items.

Having been in business for over 30 years, you get the feeling that, not only must Second Harvest Food Bank be doing something right to have persevered this long, but more importantly, the threat of hunger is not going to cease anytime soon. For more information on Second Harvest Food Bank and how you can help out, contact them at:    (951) 359-4757

1 comment:

  1. Thats a deep story, its good to see people giving back after they have had to struggle with such problems in their younger days.

    Good reading, thanks for giving me something to think about.