I was hired at the food bank in 2005 to start a training program designed to build the capacity of Second Harvest’s partner feeding programs. Over time my work evolved to include research, agency relations, program design and management. After five years of testing out new way to fight hunger in Central Florida, I’ll be taking the next step and attempting to do this on the national scale at Feeding America.
Before I take on these new challenges, I think it’s important to reflect on my past with Second Harvest. Here are my five biggest learning’s from my work here:
• Bring Visibility to the Invisible: Hunger can be a difficult social problem to illustrate. Those affected by it are usually ashamed to admit that they need help and feel even less inclined to share their story with others. Their stories are absolutely vital to drive the community to action. Second Harvest takes great strides in shedding light on the real day-to-day crisis of hunger in our area.
• Diversity is Vital: Hunger doesn’t discriminate. It impacts all types of individuals with no regard to race, age, sex, geography, religion, or education. The team at Second Harvest embraces diversity and utilizes it strategically in the fight against hunger.
• Embrace the Unknown: Three years ago I knew next to nothing about the food stamp program. Zilch. In the time since then we’ve designed and launched our food stamp outreach program, Benefits Connection. This program has secured more than $20 million dollars for Central Floridians in need. That’s the equivalent of 10 million meals. I know a couple more things about food stamps now.
• Always Keep the Mission in Focus: Every single program from nutrition, to weekend backpack, to food stamps has our mission of fighting hunger as its cornerstone.
• We Have to Work Together: Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida leads the nation in finding innovative ways to get more food out into the community. Our Grocery Alliance, Benefits Connection, Second Helpings, Hi-Five and Training programs are all successful because they bring a variety of stakeholders together to focus on the issue at hand: hunger. Volunteers, partner feeding programs, donors, and staff will continue to work in unison to carry on the fight.
I came to Second Harvest to teach others, but I think I was being taught. I look forward to following all the continued victories in the fight against hunger from my new position.
former Director of Agency Relations & Programs