Solving one problem but confronting an even greater challenge, America’s Second Harvest of the Big Bend today launched an urgent fundraising campaign that is crucial for the organization to continue feeding tens of thousands of hungry local residents. The organization introduced the community to its new food distribution center and warehouse following weeks of emergency relocation efforts, but asked for immediate support to keep operations going.
“This is a time of tremendous opportunity but tremendous difficulty for our efforts to address hunger in our community,” said Jim Croteau, interim CEO of America’s Second Harvest of the Big Bend. “The threat is very real to our organization, and thus to the tens of thousands of area residents who depend on our services. But just as real is the compassion and spirit of philanthropy that makes the Big Bend community so profoundly special.”
Last year America’s Second Harvest of the Big Bend distributed more than 6.7 million pounds of food in the local community, enough for approximately 5.5 million meals for area residents struggling with hunger. Croteau said the organization must raise $200,000 by July 1 in order to continue its essential services into the fall, when it will receive new grant funds.
The immediate infusion of funding is necessary to offset the fiscal impact of two unforeseen events: an error that cost the organization an important grant, and the emergency need to find a new home for its food warehouse. These challenges led the organization to name Croteau as interim CEO last month and to move to its new warehouse facility at 4446 Entrepot Boulevard, close to the Tallahassee airport.
“This new location will provide a safe, secure hub for our food distribution operations,” Croteau said. “It’s bigger and it’s better than our old facility. But we still deeply need the community’s help so that we can continue to meet a need that can only be described as profound.”
Croteau said another immediate way Big Bend residents can help this weekend is by supporting Stamp Out Hunger, a partnership between America’s letter carriers and Second Harvest’s parent organization, Feeding America. Stamp Out Hunger, the largest single-day food drive in the country, will take place this Saturday, May 9, and Croteau urged residents to collect non-perishable food donations and leave them in a sturdy bag near their mailboxes. The food will be distributed to local children, families and seniors struggling with hunger.
Croteau said the current two-month fundraising campaign is vital, but also noted the organization’s ongoing need for food and financial donations, as well as volunteers to help collect and distribute food to the hungry. All food and grocery products are shared with more than 130 not-for-profit and faith-based partner agencies.
More than 56,000 Leon County residents – one in five of our neighbors – can’t be sure where their next meal is coming from. Shockingly, that includes more than 11,000 kids. These numbers represent an increase of almost 20 percent since 2009.
“This has been a challenging period, and we’re not out of the woods yet. But with Jim Croteau’s expert guidance, we have begun to get our operations moving in the right direction,” said Gigi Rollini, president-elect of the Board of Directors for America’s Second Harvest of the Big Bend.
Looking around the new warehouse and food distribution facility, Croteau predicted operations will be even smoother than at the warehouse’s previous location on Four Points Way. The key, he said, remains public support.
“America’s Second Harvest is essential to this community, and the community is essential to America’s Second Harvest,” he said. “Today we are urging our neighbors to dig deep in order to help their neighbors in need.”
About America’s Second Harvest of the Big Bend
The mission of America’s Second Harvest of the Big Bend is to feed the hungry in the Big Bend through a network of partner agencies, and to educate and engage the community in the fight against hunger. The organization began in 1982 as the Food Bank of Tallahassee, and four years later joined America’s Second Harvest (now called Feeding America), the nation’s largest domestic hunger relief organization.