Hornets Assist Second Harvest
By: Calder Hynes,
August 18, 2011

For the past two Fridays, as part of the ongoing summer staff service projects, Hornets employees took it to the bank the Second Harvest Food Bank that is.

Second Harvest is the largest food bank in Louisiana, serving 23 parishes in Southern Louisiana, spanning the width of the state from Mississippi to Texas with the mission of ending hunger in the region.

The food bank fights hunger by distributing goods to those in need, as well as through advocacy, education and disaster response. The majority of the distributed food is donated through either food drives, from corporations, or from grocery stores, who supply food that cannot be sold because it is damaged, has been re-branded or is nearing its expiration date. Even though these products cannot be sold in stores, a whopping 75 percent of what is received at the food bank is safe for consumption.

Processing the incoming product and readying it for distribution is an integral and labor-intensive part of operation, and Second Harvest relies on over 10,000 volunteers each year to aid in this function. A huge amount of our labor is through volunteers. Were really reliant on that volunteer power coming in, remarked volunteer coordinator Catherine Quinn. For us to have a strong workforce like the Hornets thats excited to come out, is reliable and comes on time, its incredibly beneficial for us. We can then count on getting X amount of pounds of products processed or sorted that day, and that is a big luxury.

Over the course of the two days of volunteering, Hornets staffers assisted in sorting the non-perishable items that had been received from a recently closed store into different categories such as personal, food, paper and electronic items so they could more easily be distributed. A group of around 20 employees also assisted in repackaging various food items into 15-pound ready-to-distribute Second Harvest boxes, filling 16 pallets that were then loaded onto a truck for allocation.

Approximately 283,000 people will be the recipients of food from Second Harvest this year alone.

The Hornets assistance comes at the end of summer, prior to the beginning of the school year, a time Quinn describes as critical. Mind you, critical is not a term thrown around lightly in these parts, as Second Harvest, operating out of an abandoned Wal-Mart in Baker, La., in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, became the largest food bank in world history, going on to distribute 75 million pounds of food over the next two years.

The reason this time of year is of utmost importance to Second Harvest is because they are in the midst of their second annual Summer Feeding Program, which provides up to 5,000 meals a day to hungry children during peak times. The program is specifically designed to reach at-risk youth in the greater New Orleans area, targeting children who receive free breakfast and lunch throughout the school year, but do not have access to such a program after the academic calendar concludes.

During the summer months, that time becomes very vital for those kids because theyre no longer receiving those meals and their parents are not always able to step in and supplement that gap, Quinn added.

This was not the first time the Hornets have assisted Second Harvest, and judging by the enthusiasm both sides shared, it does not appear to be the last time either.

We love the Hornets; its a very important partnership for us. The Hornets are an institution in New Orleans and for you all to show your support of what were doing here, its important to our employees and other volunteers as well, Quinn reflected.

You can take that to the bank.

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