Second Harvest Food Bank: A Look Inside

Posted at: 12/03/2012 11:00 AM
Updated at: 12/03/2012 10:48 PM
By: Brittany Falkers

For almost thirty years, the Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank has been helping to feed the hungry by supplementing food to hundreds of non-profit organizations around the Northland.  However, without any government funding, it operates on true charitable donations.

"The community is very important. From the individual donor to the church organizations to businesses that support us financially," Second Harvest Executive Director Shaye Moris said. 

Second Harvest is not a food shelf, but rather a food bank, where food is rescued from grocery stores, hospitals, schools and much more.  This is food that would go unused or wasted if not collected by the food bank.

It's then delivered to a range of 120 non-profit agencies in Northeastern Minnesota and Northwestern Wisconsin, according to Moris.

"So, it's a pretty large service area and a whole lot of food that would go to waste if we didn't rescue it and put it to good use," Moris said.

It's all part of the food rescue program operating six days a week.  The food is counted and stored in a massive 23,500 square foot warehouse before it's repacked and delivered to places like CHUM, the Boys and Girls Club, and Union Gospel Mission, according to Moris.

"it really helps a lot.  We average, I think, 2,000 lbs a day," Food Rescue Delivery Driver Mark Water said.

Waters is out daily collecting anything from dry goods to perishable items, such as eggs, bread, and even pie.  It all benefits a range of agencies. "And a lot of them say they can't survive without this program," Waters said.

While individual food donations are a great asset, Moris says it's the financial donations that can make the biggest difference.

"For $1 dollar donated to our food bank, we can access, through our donated sources, enough food for five meals.  Or about $10 dollars worth of food," she said.

However it's not just the donations that make this operation possible.  Volunteers are a necessity for Second Harvest, utilizing about 600 volunteers a year, according to Moris.

Marty Mehling has volunteered at the food bank for almost seven years and says it was an easy choice of where to spend his time.  "It's a very worthy cause.  It's the volunteers that make it work so they don't have to spend a lot of money on staff," he said. 

Mehling knows the work he and others do at Second Harvest is beneficial and necessary. "Unfortunately, there is a need," Mehling said, "We see it more and more every day," he said. 

The need in the region is great, but Moris says there is another reason why the annual Have a Heart Help a Neighbor Food Drive is so important.  It gets people talking about hunger in our area.

"This is an issue in our community, that we have a lot of children, a lot of seniors, who, if not for our local food programs, a lot of people would be going without," Moris said. 

You can help Friday morning, Dec. 7 by stopping by the First United Methodist Church and making a cash or food donation from 5 to 9 a.m. You can always make a donation online by clicking here.