Our Programs

Working with our agency partners to feed our local hungry

Imagine that your cupboards are bare on Tuesday, but your paycheck won’t arrive until Friday.

Or that you have ridden a bus for hours to and from a full day at work, and stores and food pantries will be closed by the time you finally get home to feed your family.

Perhaps you can’t remember the last time you had access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

These situations, and many more like them, are the reality for far too many people. Approximately one in nine South Carolinians, including one in seven children, are food insecure.

At the core of Second Helpings are a number of impactful, innovative programs to address these diverse needs in our local communities.



Food Rescue – Providing food to agency partners to feed the hungry

Every day, you make it possible for teams of Second Helpings volunteers on Hilton Head Island, in Bluffton and in the greater Beaufort area pick up food from our 46 Food Donors and deliver it, the same day, to our 54 Agency Partners, including food pantries, soup kitchens and churches.

Agency Partners register annually to receive food at no cost and must follow safe food handling procedures. Second Helpings provides up to 100 percent of their food needs.

Thanks to the efforts of our more than 325 committed and active volunteers, our food rescue efforts cost less than 15 cents per pound, or 18 cents per equivalent meal.



Healthy Food Initiative – Adding produce and protein

Our food donors provide a limited amount of produce. Because produce is essential to a healthy diet, Second Helpings launched a program to solicit grants to supply additional fresh produce and protein to our agency partners. Working with a local farmer in Beaufort, produce is harvested, packaged and delivered to the agencies. We also partner with wholesalers and our Food Donors.

Farmers – South Carolina has 220 days of growing seasons. We work with Dempsey Farms in the Beaufort area to collect, package and distribute fresh produce to our agencies. We even have a dedicated plot of land that supplements our fresh produce offerings.

Wholesalers – Between growing seasons, and whenever there is a need, Second Helpings purchases food from a wholesaler in Savannah at discount prices and delivers produce, protein and many other items to our agencies.

Food Donors – When grant funds are available, we partner with our local Food Donors to purchase fruits and vegetables at discount prices.



Fill the Need Program – Helping those who make our paradise possible

Fill the Need is a unique partnership established to meet the needs of workers from surrounding rural communities who work on Hilton Head Island. Second Helpings staff was asked by Palmetto Breeze Transit staff to help their commuters, who travel up to two hours each way. There are few food suppliers and no food pantries open when they return to their homes, and no local agency to serve them.

In 2017, local volunteer Margie Tomczak organized a food distribution at Palmetto Breeze’s hub station in Bluffton. Local businesses, churches and individuals make up the pool of volunteers who work every Thursday to distribute groceries to the Hilton Head Island workforce who ride the buses to work.

As one grateful bus rider remarked, “Payday is Friday. When Thursday comes around, the groceries received are badly needed to feed my family.”

Karen Reed, works at Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort and lives in Walterboro with her daughter and son. She thinks the Fill the Need Program “is wonderful” because it means she does not have to buy meat and fruit as often and her kids “love it.”


Karen says, “I love everything that is given out and appreciate it so much as it saves me about $80 a month in food costs.”


Shirley Mitchell, also a Disney HHI Resort employee, lives in Yemassee. Fill the Need “helps out a lot as I can go in my freezer and there is chicken and other meat. I eat the fruit in the mornings.” Mitchell gets paid on Friday, so getting the food bag on Thursday in her words “really helps.” She often cooks for her daughter, son-in-law, and three grandchildren and shares with them some of the food she picks up every week at Fill the Need.


K-12 Food Rescue – Teaching students about food value, waste and recovery

According to a national study, an astonishing 50 percent of children’s lunch food ends up in the trash. Two local schools, one private and one public, enlisted their students to be “food warriors” to recover unopened, sealed food items to donate to local after-school programs, the Boys and Girls clubs and senior centers. Although this program was suspended due to COVID-19, we are working to re-start this pilot program.

First started in Indiana, K-12 Food Rescue offers all the tools to measure the impact of this food rescue effort and tallies the carbon emission value of diverting this rescued food from landfills.


Reducing Food Loss and Waste

Second Helpings is a partner and food ambassador of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control campaign, “DON’T WASTE FOOD”. Its goal is to cut food waste by half by 2030.

Second Helpings has committed to be a U.S. Food Loss and Waste Champion, and we have pledged a 50% reduction in food loss and waste in our operations by 2030. We are focused on activities targeting the prevention of food loss and waste before it arises; recovering wholesome, otherwise wasted food for donation; and recycling of food waste.

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