Second Harvest Food Bank has been facing an unprecedented amount of need throughout the county since the Covid-19 pandemic broke out in March. They have more than doubled their weekly donations, averaging about 1.2 million pounds per month in distribution.
The Holiday Food and Fund Drive kicked off in November, albeit virtually to stop the spread of the virus. No longer are there donation barrels at various locations; instead, monetary donations are being taken in via the organization’s website.
And the community has stepped up. Everyone from individual residents to large companies are doing their part to make sure those most in need are fed this holiday season.
This includes 12-year-old Andrew Trowbridge, who took it upon himself to raise $2,175 for the food bank. The funds will help generate roughly 8,700 meals for people throughout the county.
This is the third year Andrew has worked on fundraising for Second Harvest. The first time he ran a lemonade stand and earned several hundred dollars. The second, he sold baked goods made by his church congregation, raising even more. This year he simply reached out to family, friends and the greater community.
Todd Trowbridge, Andrew’s father and a vice president at Palace Business Solutions, gave him the entirety of credit. He says his son had seen Palace donating to Second Harvest and asked if there was a way he could help.
“He wanted to help people who were on the side of the road holding signs, asking for food,” he said. “He has a deep desire to help people and has always been like that. He has always wanted to … make sure they were comfortable and taken care of.”
Suzanne Willis, chief development officer for Second Harvest, praised Andrew for his efforts.
“Andrew is such an inspiration to us here at the food bank,” she said. “Knowing that he’s so committed to making sure people in his community are fed energizes us all.”
Large companies have also been helping out Second Harvest recently. Last week, health care company Kaiser Permanente introduced a $95,000 grant to the organization to fund improvement and help increase enrollment in CalFresh, California’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Since the pandemic began, the program has seen a surge in applications.
With the grant, Second Harvest will offer application and enrollment assistance to 1,000 former CalFresh clients who are no longer enrolled. It will also work with staff in the community nonprofit’s Watsonville offices, enabling them to hold a forum with partnering agencies and use cell phone technology to encourage new and existing CalFresh clients to apply.
“Kaiser Permanente’s grant is making a difference in this community that is experiencing high rates of poverty and food insecurity,” Willis said.
Nominations are now open for Second Harvest’s Hunger Fighter of the Year, which recognizes people who have gone “above and beyond” to fight hunger in the community. Nominate online at bit.ly/3mEbA2h through Jan. 6.
“You can clearly see we have a community in need,” said Jan Kamman, Second Harvest’s corporate and community relations director. “And people are responding with their generosity in so many wonderful ways.”
For more information and to donate, visit thefoodbank.org.