Squeeze Job

After looking at an image of the Second Harvest Food Bank’s receiving area taken on the morning of 3/7/12, one is reminded of the popular television show ‘Hoarders,’ with boxes and pallets filling our space as far as the eye can see.  Five tractor trailers from various corporate food industry donors visited that morning, and left behind their incredibly valuable products for the good of our community. All in all, a fairly typical morning at the Food Bank.

But nothing could be further from the truth regarding the ‘Hoarders’ impression. Not with the historic need for food assistance that exists in Central Florida today. In fact, the mission of Second Harvest has never been to store food, but rather to move food as quickly as possible to more than 500 local feeding programs who are serving tens of thousands of struggling people in need every week.

The current Food Bank facility can hold approximately 1.5 million pounds of products at one time, but its contents will empty out completely in just over two weeks based on today’s rate of distribution. We are proud of the efficiency that allows nearly 33 million pounds of groceries per year to flow through our operation, and the impact that those products have on the lives of real people. Still, we’re saddened by the knowledge that our distribution isn’t nearly enough to fully meet the needs of the community.  We’ve run out of space, but we haven’t run out of need.  

The rather bleak truth is that we presently have no choice but to turn away more than four million pounds of food per year these days—much of it nutritious fresh fruits and vegetables—simply due to lack of infrastructure and capacity. When we know what the real need is, this is completely unacceptable. That’s the bad news.

The good news? It doesn’t have to be this way forever. Not in our community.

For only the second time in its three-decades of service to Central Florida, Second Harvest Food Bank is conducting a capital campaign to increase the capacity of our mission well into the future. The “Building Solutions to Hunger” campaign seeks the resources to create a new, 100,000 square foot distribution center in Orlando that will allow our important work  to take a quantum leap forward.

How do we know it will be a quantum leap? Because we’ve been in this situation before. Back in 1994, we asked the community to support the purchase and renovation of a much larger facility, which would dramatically increase the amount of dry space, cooler space, and freezer space available. When that campaign concluded in 1996, the Food Bank was distributing just over 6 million pounds of food per year.

We still operate from that facility today, though we’ve managed to use the capacity to its fullest. From six million pounds per year to 33 million pounds in just over 15 years–more than five times the amount of food that we were moving  for people before. Capacity is truly “King” when it comes to a successful food banking operation, and the history of Second Harvest Food Bank is proof.

Today I invite you to learn more about the future vision of hunger relief for Central Florida, and to consider what your role might be in this urgent and vital project. Our neighbors in need are counting on us…and you…to make it happen. Please take a few moments and visit www.showmercynow.org to find out more.


Greg Higgerson
CFRE Vice-President, Development

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