As the impact of the economic recession continues, many people are still affected especially the unemployed, families with children and the elderly.
Even traditionally affluent communities are experiencing the effects of the recession as more people are seeking assistance. With the rise of more citizens seeking help, the sunny Peninsula only minutes south of San Francisco is no exception.
This past Sept 5, the Second Harvest Food Bank officially opened its third location at 4001 North First Street in San Jose. Serving the needs of San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties since 1974, Second Harvest has seen the number of people it serves increase by nearly 50 percent since the recession started. It currently provides food to nearly 250,000 people each month. That averages to be about 1 person out of every 10 people in the Peninsula region alone that are in need of food.
Over 200 invited guests, officials and community leaders were at the opening ceremony including San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and TJ Rodgers of Cypress Semiconductor and Randy Pond of Cisco. The Pond Family and Cypress Semiconductor, along with Cisco, SanDisk and Warmenhoven family were among the major benefactors to Second Harvest that helped to make the new expanded location possible.
The new facility is named Cypress Center in honor of Cypress Semiconductor, which donated the 75,000-square-foot building and surrounding five acres in April of last year. The building donation is estimated at a value of $9 million.
After a major renovation of what was once a research and development facility for Cypress, the Food Bank moved in at Cypress Center in April of this year. Second Harvest will also continue to operate out of its two other facilities – on Curtner Avenue in San Jose and Bing Street in San Carlos.
“The generous ‘over-and-above’ gifts we received from longtime Food Bank supporters, including the building and funds to renovate it, are helping Second Harvest to significantly improve our efficiency,” said Kathy Jackson, CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank. “As one of the few food banks in the country that does not charge for the food we provide, we have to work smarter to address the still-growing need, while offsetting challenges like rising food prices. Our new dedicated distribution model is reducing the number of food ‘touches’, increasing inventory turns, and getting food out into the community faster.”
While the Food Bank moved into the new location this past April and established outreach operations, with an 8,000 square foot cooler and a 2,000 square foot freezer, the grand opening was a celebration of gratitude. Food collection and distribution is on going and staff at Second Harvest anticipates the need for food for families and the elderly will continue to grow.
At present Second Harvest collects and distributes 46 million pounds of food each year. Thanks to the new building and retooled operations, it is anticipated that number will grow to over 69 million pounds of food. This includes dry goods, canned goods and produce.
"This new facility will be the produce hub," so to speak, said Second Harvest spokesperson, Caitlin Kerk. With the enhanced cooler space more fresh produce can be provided. This is crucial because fresh produce is part of a healthy diet and so many people in need; especially families with children are not able to get fresh vegetables and fruit.
The grand opening was good news to Dr. David Ressler, DC of Ressler Chiropractic in South San Francisco. He and his staff promote food drives to Second Harvest each year, even during summer time. "My patients love the energy of giving, but a little prodding from me helps," he said. Ressler has been coordinating food drives through his office near Westborough Blvd for more than ten years. It is an outreach that he and many chiropractors do to help the community.
Ressler noted that participating in a food drive was something that his instructors and mentors at Palmer College of Chiropractic West Campus in San Jose, encouraged and supported in their students. "They not only encouraged it, but required it," said chiropractor David York. At his practice in San Francisco, called Advantage Chiropractic, York has a food drive every holiday season.
"Yes," said Chuck Bustillos, campus communications director for the chiropractic college. "Palmer College has a long history of active involvement with community organizations in the regions in which our three campuses are located: San Jose, Calif., Port Orange, Fla., and Davenport, Iowa - its headquarters.
"The West campus here in San Jose, was established in 1980, we have figuratively, and literally, gone the “extra mile” in supporting Second Harvest Food Bank's efforts to help feed the less-fortunate members of our community. Bustillos is happy that a new location has opened up right around the corner from Palmer Chiropractic College. Ressler is proud to continue in the outreach that his chiropractic college alma mater instilled in him.
"Second Harvest does a great job taking care of many hungry, Ressler said. "I take my kids with me when taking in the donations so they can see how important giving is, said Ressler, and to see how massive the operation is." "Too many people need food, even on the Peninsula," he added.
When local businesses help to collect food this makes the outreach a bit easier, as donation facilitator Deborah McGaw explained, "food drives help us a lot." When people donate money that can stretch a bit further. With its purchasing power, Second Harvest can turn one dollar into two meals. "Yet having food already collected that helps us get food out to people in need right away," she said.
Both McGaw and Kerk emphasized that the upcoming holiday season will be especially critical. Thanksgiving is six weeks away and Second Harvest is working to ensure that everyone who needs a meal can get one. Despite the rise in food prices, even for staple things like peanut butter and tuna. "Holidays are especially difficult for families," said McGaw.
Second Harvest is enthusiastic to work with local businesses (and individuals) to meet the needs. To support the Food Bank, visit the web site. Or call 866-234-3663. Anyone who is struggling to put food on the table should call Second Harvest Food Bank’s Food Connection hotline at 800-984-3663.