To feed hungry people by soliciting and distributing food and grocery products through a nationwide network of certified affiliate food banks and food-rescue programs and to educate the public about the nature of and solutions to the problem of hunger in America.
Founded in 1979, America's Second Harvest distributed 2.5 million pounds of food through a network of thirteen food banks during its first year of operation. The organization's network has grown to include more than 200 regional food banks and food-rescue programs in all fifty states that together distribute one billion pounds of donated food and grocery products annually. The food assistance reaches more than 23 million hungry Americans, including nine million children and 2.5 million seniors.
America's Second Harvest defines hunger as the inability to purchase enough food to meet basic nutritional needs. According to a major report from the organization — , 39 percent of the 23.3 million Americans served each year by the network are from households with working individuals. Nearly half (47 percent) live in rural or suburban areas, 39 percent are children under the age of seventeen, and 11 percent are seniors over the age of sixty-five.
The organization solicits donated food and grocery products from the nation's growers, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers in order to distribute it to hungry people across America. The donations consist primarily of surplus food that might otherwise go to waste. America's Second Harvest records the items donated to food banks and generates reports for donors' records. Overall, the network of more than 200 regional food banks and food-rescue organizations distributes food and grocery products to some 50,000 local charitable hunger-relief agencies, including food pantries, soup kitchens, women's shelters, and other organizations that provide emergency food assistance.
America's Second Harvest also operates several that address hunger among disaster victims, needy children, and other individuals. Other programs at the organization train unemployed people for work in the food service industry, upgrade equipment at food banks, and collect donated transportation for food delivery.
In a new partnership, America's Second Harvest will link its affiliates with local agencies of Goodwill Industries International, Inc. to help provide services such as job training, cross agency referrals, children's services, and food drives. The program grew out of the Community Training Kitchen, a job-training program established by the and . Instructors from both local organizations developed a comprehensive curriculum for cooking and food preparation, master knife skills, kitchen tools training, food sanitation, and life skills. Since the program's start in 2002, nineteen students have completed the courses and started working.
The organization's Web site provides a wealth of information on hunger and also explains in detail what America's Second Harvest is doing to fight the problem. In addition to information on the organization's and its , the site includes on hunger, of people who receive food from the America's Second Harvest network, and a that allows Web visitors to find the nearest food bank or food-rescue program. Finally, the site pays tribute to the partner organizations and donors that help America's Second Harvest provide food to those in need.
America's Second Harvest depends on from individuals, corporations, and charitable foundations. Every dollar helps America's Second Harvest secure and distribute twenty-eight pounds of food and groceries to network food banks and food-rescue programs.