Community Partner Spotlight: Second Harvest Food Bank

Did you know that 188,000 children in the Charlotte region are at risk of hunger EVERY day?  The Junior League of Charlotte, Inc. (JLC) partners with Second Harvest Food Bank to achieve the organization’s number one goal: ending child hunger.

Second Harvest solicits and distributes food and household items throughout 19 counties in North and South Carolina in partnership with over 700 emergency pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters and programs.

While Second Harvest feeds hungry people of all ages, the JLC focuses on alleviating childhood hunger with the food bank through two separate programs.

The first is the Backpack Program, through which children take home a backpack of nutritious, ready to eat foods for weekends and holidays when school meals are not available.  The JLC does bi-monthly backpack stuffing at the Second Harvest Food Bank warehouse, packing between 400 and 700 backpacks. On a weekly basis, the JLC’s Second Harvest Food Bank Committee delivers backpacks for Reid Park Elementary. This represents a tremendous contribution to the over 150,000 backpacks distributed through the program annually at over 150 sites throughout the region.

The second program, School-Based Mobile Pantry, supplements the Backpack Program at higher poverty elementary schools.  The JLC supports the on-site pantry at Reid Park Elementary, allowing low-income families to shop for produce, meat, eggs, whole grain breads and other essentials like toilet paper and diapers. The Mobile Pantry provides an opportunity for the committee members to interact with the children and parents of Reid Park, even partnering with other JLC organizations like Kids in the Kitchen to create recipe cards involving the fresh produce that is distributed at the pantry. According to Julie Bork, Chair of the JLC’s Second Harvest Food Bank Committee, the children are particularly fond of fresh fruit – peaches in particular.

Bork went on to note, “I love that our placement has events that allow multiple members to collaborate and volunteer together. Apart from the weekly deliveries, all events are in a group, and we take a lot of time to prepare meaningful experiences for our members, our leaders, Second Harvest Food Bank, and Reid Park Elementary. I continue to learn the importance of supporting less fortunate residents of our community. While most of us go to bed at night with full stomachs and a safe place to rest, I continue to work towards supporting those who are not as fortunate. The Second Harvest Food Bank Committee allows me to contribute in small ways to have a few fewer empty bellies on the weekend nights!”

Written by Sarah Wetenhall