Setting the Table

America’s Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia helps feed the community

The local chapter of the organization began in 1981 in the back
 of a pickup truck and has grown to become a leading charitable hunger-relief organization in the South, operating a 100,000-square- foot facility in Savannah, and a new warehouse in Brunswick. Through grants, donations and volunteers, Second Harvest provides nearly 13 million meals annually. During the coronavirus outbreak, as families lost their jobs and livelihoods, the Second Harvest mission became even more crucial, say officials. 

“Food is one of the most basic things we all need. We react every day to the disaster of someone not having food assistance,” says Mary Jane Crouch, executive director of America’s Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia. “During tough times we have to step up what we are doing so that people don’t have to stress about having food for their families.” 

Nationally, Second Harvest was one of the first groups to provide food assistance for the public as shelves in grocery stores became bare during the early days of the coronavirus. In the Savannah area, volunteers handed out boxes of non-perishable food, produce and frozen vegetables to more than 1,000 vehicles at their warehouse facility in just one day, Crouch recalls. 

Such quick local response is due to the national support Second Harvest receives as part of its affiliation with Feeding America, a nonprofit organization that supports more than 200 food banks throughout the United States. The group also receives grants and partnerships through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as well as donations from major retailers including Target, Walmart and Whole Foods, among many others.

In addition to nimble crisis operations, America’s Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia is also set up to distribute food year-round through key programs like Brown Bag, which provides meals for seniors living on fixed incomes, which provides after-school meals and care for children at more than 75 locations across Chatham and Liberty counties alone. The organization’s wide range of programming also includes the Mobile Food Pantry, delivering food directly to the underserved. The food truck has been a vital resource during the coronavirus pandemic, giving volunteers the opportunity to bring food directly to those without transportation or access to quality meals. 

Second Harvest’s far-reaching effect wouldn’t be possible without a network of devoted volunteers, Crouch says, adding that the organization has plenty of roles available to fill the hunger need in the community, from sorting and organizing donated food to packaging meals and delivering them. 

“Only by everyone working together can we help each other,” Crouch says. “At the end of the day, we just want to make sure people have enough food on their table.”

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