Springfield-based Second Harvest Food Bank becomes independent nonprofit

The Second Harvest Food Bank of Clark, Champaign and Logan Counties celebrated successfully becoming an independent and locally-operated nonprofit during a ceremony that included local community leaders as well as state legislators and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine.

It was first announced in 2018 that the local food bank, which served around 37,000 people last year, would no longer be connected to Catholic Charities Southwestern Ohio and would transition to its own standalone nonprofit organization.

“We have friends who have volunteered here and have really taken the lead. We just really wanted to stop by to just tell everyone in the community thank you for doing this,” said DeWine at Thursday’s event. “Nutrition is so very very important. Public health is important and you can’t really have good health unless people have enough food to eat.”

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“We see teachers who tell us that they see some kids who come to school Monday morning who have not had anything to eat for a while,” he added. “We know that impacts learning and we know that impacts their brain development. So having this food bank that is locally run with local volunteers makes a big difference.”

The transition period for Second Harvest ended this month and the nonprofit was able to obtain over 200 new donors who gave over $200,000 to the organization last year, said Tyra Jackson, executive director for Second Harvest. She said those extra donations will help supplement funding that in the past has come from Catholic Charities, which gave its last donation of $125,000 to the food bank towards the end of 2019.

“We have actually had a lot of new donors come in to support this because they know the importance of the food bank in our community,” Jackson said at the grand opening of the food bank, located at 701 E. Columbia St., on Thursday. The event celebrated a successful transition from Catholic Charities.

“Does that mean we don’t need more money? Absolutely not. We know as we reach, and we are talking, communicating and educating people about food insecurity, our numbers keep increasing,” she added.

Second Harvest works with 65 partner agencies throughout Clark, Champaign and Logan counties and served over 5 million meals last year.

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The number of people needing those services continues to go up, with the number of people served by Second Harvest increasing by a little over 2,000 between 2018 and 2019. Jackson estimates that they will serve a couple more thousand people this year. However, she added that largely depends on what the local economy will look like throughout the year.

There are also mobile pantries associated with the food bank that will go to areas that do not have grocery stores close by or whose residents may not have access to transportation. Over 60% of those that utilize the services of Second Harvest are employed, the organization reported on Thursday.

“They are considered minimum wage jobs and they have a couple of jobs that they are trying to piece together to sustain their household and it’s hard,” Jackson said. “We know that there are a lot of people out there that are struggling and we want to be a part of alleviating some of that struggle and providing healthy and nutritional food so they can keep their housing and they can have their medication and they can pay for transportation to get to and from work.”

She estimates that her organization would need to raise $200,000 to $300,000 per year to not only sustain current operations but also expand services in the area, including adding more student pantries. Her organization currently is partnered with pantries that serve students at Clark State as well as Urbana University.

There are currently efforts to drum up more corporate support as well, representatives of Second Harvest said on Thursday. Jackson told the News-Sun late last year that Mercy Health recently pledged to donate $100,000 over a period of four years.

By the numbers:

200: Number of new donors who have given to the Second Harvest Food Bank since the end of 2018

$200,000: Number of new donations received by Second Harvest during 2019

37,000: Number of people served by the food bank and its partner agencies last year

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