News

Seasonal Changes and New Opportunities

I was looking over some of our history as I begin think about planning our budget for 2020. Typing in that year, 2020 seems kind of weird to me. I remember concerns that all computers would crash at the end of 1999, that’s really weird. That also means we are now entering into a new decade, wow, that seems too quick as well, but here we are. More pressing, I am now entering into my Fall Season mentality. I work outside in the yard a lot throughout most of the entire year. It’s funny now that I think about it. I spend 3 months getting things to grow, 4 months trying to keep them alive and looking good, then 2 months cleaning it all up and putting things away and 3 months keeping winter cleaned up and getting things ready to start over again. I enjoy doing each part and Florida wouldn’t offer those same opportunities. The change of season has a ripple effect. It becomes harder to have enough daylight to get the grass cut after work before it gets too dark.

The change of season also affects the food we can access through our donation channels in the food industry. I remember several years ago getting many pallets of popcorn in 50 lb. bags. Those opportunities aren’t around anymore, but that’s ok because they were very hard to find a suitable home. I’m old enough to remember cooking popcorn in a pan on top of the stove, but as a kid, that was a rare treat around our house. I love microwave popcorn! Microwave popcorn is quick, easy, delicious and it comes in its own serving container. Don’t you wish everything was as straight-forward as that. Food consumption habits change with the season and that brings back some items we haven’t seen for a while. As local home grown tomatoes are winding down, too bad, but new crop local apples are ready to harvest.

I recall about 3 years ago, one of the semi loads of donated food we received was a load of Honeycrisp apples. That same week, I happened to see a supermarket ad that featured Honeycrisp apples for $1.99 per lb. I visited a different supermarket that was selling Honeycrisp apples for $3.99 per lb. That load of apples we received had a consumer retail value of roughly over $100,000! That would be similar to receiving a donated semi load of Ground Beef! We were thrilled to get that load and got those delicious apples in the hands of struggling families very quickly. That was possibly the first time many low income families would have tasted a Honeycrisp apple.

Three years ago we were experiencing a lot of growth with a new school initiative and some of those apples were being distributed to the families involved.  At that time we were working with 12 schools in 3 counties. Now, that initiative has been branded The Big Idea and we are working with 35 schools in 8 counties and more are in the future. All our conversations with potential funders, volunteers and school administrations have been positive from the first meetings and popping up all over our 8 county service area like that microwave popcorn I was mentioning. Our opportunities for this initiative are expanding all the time. If you don’t have this initiative already happening or being discussed at your school, start asking some questions. Honeycrisp apples could be coming on the next delivery.

Since this time 3 years ago, we have re-branded our relationship based family initiative to Forward S.T.E.P.S. and have a new focus on under-resourced working families. There were some amazing success stories we witnessed at our most recent graduating class celebration. Video is available if you currently receive our monthly e-newsletter called First Monday. If you would like to receive it send us your email address at foodbank@curehunger.org. In the last 3 years we have also rolled out an initiative called Senior Safety Net, which provides monthly assistance to struggling seniors now at 6 sites in 3 counties. Who knows, in the next 3 years how many new partnerships, coordinated collaborations and initiatives we will be involved in to shorten the line of need? We need your engagement to make that happen.

Tim Kean, President and CEO of Second Harvest