Editor’s Note: Natasha Bowes, our Senior Manager, Philanthropy, recently saw the direct impact of Second Harvest’s efforts during a truck ride-along. She joined our driver Hektor as he delivered rescued food to several agencies and programs Second Harvest supports, thanks to the continued support of our donors.
She shared her experience with our CEO Lori Nikkel in an email, which we reproduced below.
I took part in my annual ride-along and it was an eye-opening and inspiring experience! Thank you for making this part our annual staff development, it truly helped me understand the work we do, on a deeper level.
On a chilly, drizzly Wednesday morning a few weeks ago, and I had the privilege of joining one of our amazing Second Harvest drivers for their delivery route. As the day began at 7 a.m. amidst the bustling heart of the Second Harvest warehouse, our truck was being filled with nutritious surplus food, including chicken, ground beef, sausage, dairy products, yogurt and more!
We had a clear mission that day to deliver over 7,240 pounds of rescued food to 12 partner organizations who help feed our city’s most vulnerable communities.
Our first stop brought us to a local food bank. The volunteers receiving the food shared that before the pandemic, they helped 70 individuals weekly. But now this foodbank is lifeline for over 425 families and individuals every week, and they rely on Second Harvest for most of that food.
In that moment I was both shocked, and full of hope, as it reinforced for me ‘why’ Second Harvest is such an impactful charity.
This food bank is lucky, and has a dedicated group of bike-delivery volunteers who help bring our food directly to the doors of people in need. It means that people like Sarah, a homebound individual, can eat a healthy, balanced diet and as such – she can now pay for her medications, something she couldn’t do before receiving food deliveries.
At our next destination, I met Mark, a resilient fellow grappling with the recent loss of both parents. Mark thanked me for the food delivery and asked me to send his thanks to everyone at Second Harvest! He explained that breaking bread and making friends at the community center helped him through his loneliness and grief.
It made me smile, knowing our donors gifts go beyond the actual food we deliver, it creates communities and social cohesion and the benefits go way beyond its nutritional value. It brings people together, combats poor mental health, fights loneliness, increases self- worth and esteem.
Our delivery route took us to a vibrant neighbourhood, one of city’s most diverse, where Chef Tony was brimming with excitement. He envisioned transforming surplus food into delectable dishes that nourish bodies and uplift the spirits of people struggling with homelessness and substance use. This drop-in program provides immediate life-saving services, including nutritious meals, shelter from the elements, crisis counseling, and facilities like washrooms, showers, and laundry.
Our last stop of the day was at another food bank, where the impact of our efforts was unmistakable. Kevin and his dedicated team of volunteers orchestrated the unloading process with practiced efficiency, transforming our truck’s cargo into bundles of hope. This specific food bank receives multiple deliveries from Second Harvest weekly; it serves as a lifeline for the community’s growing needs.
This opportunity for a truck ride-along reinforced what I believe so deeply – that the impact of Second Harvest’s programs extends far beyond nourishing empty stomachs.
The food we deliver is more than just a meal; it weaves a beautiful tapestry of nourishment, comfort, community, dignity, and respect. It also helps us protect the planet we live on…a dual benefit.
Thank you, Lori, for inspiring us all to take part in these types of experiences so we can see first-hand the impact we are having on so many lives and in the process helping our planet too.
Have a great day and thank you again,
The need for your support has never been greater. Second Harvest’s efforts last year provided food to over 4.8 million individuals from coast to coast to coast. With your generosity, we can help even more individuals and families.