How One Organization Makes a Huge Difference
By Elizabeth Skenes Millen
Usually, when the topic of people suffering from hunger comes up, visions of starving children in Africa, Ethiopia, Haiti or some other far off places are imagined. While these areas of the world have citizens, both young and old, experiencing severe hunger, surprisingly so does our own Beaufort County, along with neighboring Jasper and Hampton counties. It’s true; hunger is a real problem right in our own backyard. Fortunately, there are organized efforts to help those in need. Second Helpings is one such organization that is making a huge difference between many having food on the table or not.
If you live in the Lowcountry, it is a safe bet you have seen a Second Helpings truck on the road. After all, this nonprofit organization has grown from a guy with a mission and a pick-up truck to a fleet of six refrigerated trucks on the road six days a week, 52 weeks per year. Between one paid employee, Executive Director Maureen Korzik, and 240 volunteers, Second Helpings is a successful food rescue operation. They go to selected local grocery stores, restaurants and big box chains to get food that would otherwise be thrown away, and deliver it to food pantries, soup kitchens and other nonprofits around the Lowcountry. Approximately 52,000 pounds of food are picked up, delivered and distributed locally every week. Ninety percent of this food is perishable, and last year alone, they rescued more than 2.6 million pounds of food in the Lowcountry.
Second Helpings currently serves 68 agencies, including Deep Well and Children’s Center in Hilton Head, Booker T. Washington Center and Our Lady’s Pantry in Beaufort, Bluffton Self Help and Church of the Cross in Bluffton, Mercy Ministries in Hardeeville and St. Stephen’s Church in Ridgeland. These are just a few recipients of the meats, fruits, vegetables and other food products that are in high demand in providing those in need with nourishing foods.
Hunger lurks in places one would never expect. Food ministries not only serve those who are unemployed, but also the working poor, whose minimum wage jobs cannot cover the full household expenses. In addition, the elderly make up a large population who is being served through local food pantries. “Many elderly are living longer and running out of money or they are spending so much on medicines, they can’t afford food. Anybody can find themselves in a situation where they may have to go to a food bank. Eating is a basic need and people deserve a chance at a successful life. You have to have food to live, learn, work and thrive,” Maureen said.
As we move into the holidays, the need at food banks increases dramatically. Maureen explained how simple it is to help and make a difference. For some, it can be as simple as buying a “buy-one-get-one-free” deal while grocery shopping and giving the free one to a local food bank. “Soups, canned fruit, peanut butter and oatmeal are always needed,” she said. For others, that could mean volunteering at a food bank or soup kitchen. “I encourage people to volunteer at a food bank to get a first hand look at the need. It’s all about dignity. They [the recipients] wouldn’t be there if they didn’t need the food,” she added. And finally, Second Helpings is always looking for monetary donations and volunteers. It costs $100 each day to put one truck on the road and they have six. Maureen explained, “It’s hard work, but very rewarding work. People are usually lined up waiting for the Second Helpings truck to show up.”
Most of us have no worries about whether or not we will have food for our next meal. Imagine if you did. Now imagine that there were no agencies to help. Our beautiful Lowcountry would be a much different place. As your family sits down for a wonderful Thanksgiving meal, open your eyes to the hunger in our area. More importantly, open your heart to be thankful for the collaboration of all of these agencies that spend their days feeding the poor and hungry. Can you help? If so, that is something to truly be thankful for.