Executive Message

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Scaling up the fight against local hunger

Over the past 40 years of serving the community, we've seen hunger chip away at opportunity. Nearly half of our clients must choose between buying food or continuing their education. Hunger prevents children, families, and local communities from reaching their full potential. As they struggle to pay rising rents and put food on the table, one in 10 of our neighbors turns to Second Harvest for help. In fact, our clients seek food assistance 13 times a year, compared to the national food bank average of eight times — a reflection of the high cost of living in the Bay Area.

Forty years ago, dented cans and miscellaneous donated items filled the shelves of our humble, 1,200-square-foot facility in East San Jose. Today, providing access to healthy food is central to what we do. Notwithstanding a crippling California drought this past year, Second Harvest proudly distributed more fresh fruits and vegetables than any other food bank in the United States.

By necessity, we are a big business. No other single nonprofit organization in San Mateo or Santa Clara counties touches more lives than Second Harvest does every month. To efficiently provide the equivalent of nearly one million meals every week of the year, we have scaled our operations and squeezed every dollar.

Knowing that one in three kids in our community is at risk for hunger, we continue to stock families' shelves with the protein and dairy kids need to grow strong.

But hunger isn't a supply chain problem. Hunger is personal. And scary. Hunger is a child confronted by an empty refrigerator after school. A mom who waters down milk to make it last longer. That's the reason we are in nearly every neighborhood, complementing our broad scale by deepening our community roots and using surgical precision to fight hunger block by block.

When we've found gaps or redundancies in service, we've strategized with local partners — both new and old — to solve hunger in creative ways. In southern San Mateo County, we're working directly with schools to open pantries to feed students and their families. In southern Santa Clara County, we're leveraging a strong local partner to reach often-ignored migrant and homeless populations. Across both counties, we're investing in trucks, cold storage, and other equipment so our partners can safely get food the "last mile" to hungry people.

Access to nutritious food paves the way for healthier kids with brighter futures and is a cornerstone of a healthy community. Food is hope. Thank you for helping us to ensure that anyone who needs a meal can get one.