It was a spring unlike any in the 28-year history of Second Helpings. Thousands out of work, some volunteers unable to assist, and grocery stores with low food supplies combined to make this the season of adaptation for the area’s only authorized food rescue agency.
Second Helpings’ team, supported by many in the community, stepped up to make it possible for many of our neighbors to have food. Jo Pender, president of the Second Helpings’ board of directors, gives kudos to Lili Coleman, executive director; Bruce Agar, office administrator; Terry Moloney, South of the Broad coordinator; and Kelley Eby, North of the Broad coordinator.
“Our staff deserves praise and thanks for the way they responded to the Coronavirus pandemic and its impact on food in our area,” Pender said. “Through their creativity and a lot of hard work, many of our neighbors received food who would otherwise have gone hungry.”
From the start of the pandemic’s restrictions, Second Helpings has made every effort to continue our partnerships with food donors and agency partners. FAQs with food handling best practices, grants to purchase food, and a creative effort to pay furloughed workers to assist in food rescue are just a few of the ways our work continued over the last eight weeks.
In addition to a special allocation of $40,000 from the operating budget to supplement food donations, Second Helpings has secured more than $60,000 in grants and donations to purchase fresh produce, proteins, and nonperishable foods for the soup kitchens and food pantries we serve.
A partnership with the SERG Restaurant Group provided some of their employees who were furloughed to assist Second Helpings’ volunteers. SERG employees worked for three weeks before returning to their jobs. This effort is continuing with furloughed workers from other businesses who are being paid to help on the trucks. The Lowcountry Community COVID-19 Response Fund, a fund of Community Foundation of the Lowcountry, and the Wexford Plantation Charitable Foundation are making this effort possible.
In addition, trucks have been stationed in Beaufort, Sun City, and on Hilton Head for food donations. Many in the community have answered the call for nonperishable food items. Also, restaurants with excess inventory reached out to Second Helpings to prevent food waste. That food was quickly supplied to our partner agencies. Through these efforts, we have expanded our food donor network; an action that will also have a positive impact going forward.
During this period, Second Helpings also stepped forward to assist tornado victims in Hampton County. Our volunteers traveled two hours to deliver food to that area.
All of these efforts were undertaken as our staff and volunteers learned ways to help while practicing physical distancing, wearing masks and gloves, and continually cleaning surfaces.
As we look to the future, more than $5,000 in plants were purchased, which will provide fresh produce in the months to come. The need continues! To donate food or sponsor a food drive, click here.