FEEDING AMERICA: PARTNERS IN SOURCING HEALTHY FOOD – JANUARY 6
As a member of Feeding America’s national network of 200 food banks, Second Harvest is better able to serve people facing hunger. Belonging to Feeding America expands Second Harvest’s resources, including the access to food. Given the current challenges of higher food costs and lower crop yields, this partnership is vital to helping Second Harvest provide food to neighbors in need.
Mike Thomsen, supply chain director of food resources at Second Harvest, said the benefits of belonging to Feeding America are numerous.
“I’d say that Feeding America enables us to double the amount of food we are able to source every year and increases the variety of the food we get exponentially.”
We asked Thomsen to explain how Second Harvest’s partnership with Feeding America improves access to healthy food, while also saving money and time.
How does being a member of Feeding America help Second Harvest source food?
- Second Harvest has access to a national network of products and sourcing opportunities:
- The Choice Platform allows national manufacturers and producers that partner with Feeding America to donate food from around the U.S., which Second Harvest can bid on through an internal network.
- The MealConnect Platform allows partner agencies to pick up and accurately record food donations from over 150 retail grocers in our service area with minimal administrative time or effort. It also allows us to oversee the program and manage data from a single website.
- Produce matching on MealConnect enables us to source produce from around the U.S. and Canada.
- The Purchasing Portal Platform offers shelf-stable, manufactured products to be purchased at reduced costs that are driven by Feeding America’s partnerships.
- Partnering with other Feeding America members located in states such as California and Arizona helps us source additional produce directly from them during late fall, winter and early spring, when options from our area are limited.
Providing support from farm to table
In addition to increasing the number of sources for food, the partnership with Feeding America opens the door to much-needed funding for operational costs. “This financial support allows us to increase the quantity and variety of the food we are able to offer,” Thomsen shared.
Second Harvest can apply for Feeding America grants that support harvesting and packing costs for certain loads purchased on the Produce Matching Portal, and the sourcing costs of protein and culturally-appropriate foods that are not available in our area.
Additional funding includes freight subsidies for products purchased on the Choice and Produce Matching platforms.
Saving money, time and resources
Thomsen explained that Feeding America’s training opportunities and in-depth data help Second Harvest save time and money. “Without this support, we would need to hire additional staff to perform these functions,” he said. “This helps increase our knowledge base by enabling detailed analysis of historical data, ultimately leading to more efficient operations.”
Feeding America’s training opportunities and other resources include:
- Training on food sourcing for new and current staff members
- Monthly webinars related to sourcing
- Support from Feeding America’s national food sourcing office
- Geographic lists for potential food donors in our service area
Are you interested in donating food to Second Harvest? Please visit our Give Food page to learn more.