Second Harvest provides food to nearly a quarter million people per month in our two counties. This is largely possible thanks to our awesome network of nearly 330 partner agencies, including shelters, pantries, soup kitchens, children’s programs, senior meal sites, and residential programs, located as far north as Daly City and as far south as Gilroy.
On May 13, 2016, we hosted our 10th Annual Harvest of Knowledge Partner Conference, sponsored by Oracle, in Redwood City. The conference was a day of learning and sharing new ways to connect with hard to reach clients, improve services, and celebrate our local leaders making a difference.
Every year, we give out a handful of awards to shine a spotlight on partner agencies and individuals who do exceptional work in our community. Below are this year’s inspiring honorees.
Putting People First Award
“The Putting People First Award” recognizes one organization in each county who serve their community members in need of food with an exceptional level of customer service. Health Trust – Jerry Larson FOODBasket and Ravenswood City School District received this year’s award.
The Health Trust Jerry Larson FOODBasket is committed to strengthening the health of its clients by providing nutrition services and engagement opportunities for volunteers while maximizing donor and partners’ contributions. During our 16 years of partnership, this agency has provided services to our community members with respect and integrity. They spearheaded a senior brown bag program with fresh produce to four remote centers; have increased their hours of service; added a Saturday pickup for their AIDS Services clients; and have volunteers bring excess food to the Food Bank.
Ravenswood City School District has gone above and beyond to ensure their eight schools and community families are served in a very respectful and dignified manner. They distribute food twice a month to neighbors in need. They’ve also worked with Second Harvest to establish an emergency food pantry for their school families that can’t attend their distributions due to work or other obligations. Over the past three years, they have participated in the Summer Feeding Program at three of their school sites, working with a collaborative group of community partners to provide nutritious, hot meals to students and their parents/guardians during summer enrichment programs.
Outstanding Grocery Rescue Partner Award
“The Outstanding Grocery Rescue Partner Award” recognizes one organization in each county that adheres to the terms of The Grocery Rescue agreement, including maintaining a set pick-up schedule, submitting reports on-time, and having a great relationship with their paired stores. In addition, there is usually something unique about the agencies chosen. This year, the award goes to Ecumenical Hunger Program and Sacred Heart Community Service.
Ecumenical Hunger Program’s mission is to assist local families and individuals who are experiencing economic and personal hardship. The organization has participated in the Grocery Rescue program for 4 years. They saw big growth in a year and a half, from partnering with one retail store to four retail stores. EHP has dedicated staff drivers who are knowledgeable and provide great customer service and salesmanship to the stores.
Sacred Heart Community Service’s mission is to build a community free from poverty by creating hope, opportunity, and action. The nonprofit has excellent communication with both the assigned stores and the food bank. They consistently submit accurate and timely weekly reports and successfully train and manage volunteers. Dupe Thomas and her team are enthusiastic, caring, and dedicated to helping our neighbors in need.
The Ultimate Food Connector Award
“The Ultimate Food Connector Award” recognizes one organization in each county that stands out in connecting clients to all of the food programs they may be eligible for. This year’s award recipients are SparkPoint at Skyline College and the Salvation Army – Silicon Valley.
Pantry partner SparkPoint at Skyline College has been a Food Bank partner for six years. They help college students with nutrition, financial planning, and accessing all the benefits they may be eligible for so they can stay in school and reach their full potential. SparkPoint advocates and follows up with eligible clients to make sure they get the benefits they applied for with the Food Bank and the County.
The Salvation Army Silicon Valley has been a Food Connection Outreach partner for eight years. They help with safety net needs – food, rental ,and utility bill assistance. They host the Food Bank and County Eligibility Workers on site to expedite CalFresh enrollment – they even built office space so both representatives are able to work close by each other.
McCown-Takalo Hunger Hero Award
Recipients of the McCown-Takalo Hunger Hero Award exemplify the following values: honesty, compassion, integrity; long term commitment; spokesperson for the underserved; always puts the needs of the clients first; and tenacity. This year, the award goes to AnnMarie Zimmerman, Loaves & Fishes Family Kitchen and George Chippendale, Society of St. Vincent de Paul of San Mateo County.
Loaves & Fishes has filled a compelling community void by providing free, hot, nutritious meals for 36 years. Under AnnMarie Zimmerman’s leadership, she has helped them reinvent themselves to meet the ever changing needs of the Bay Area community. In keeping with the spirit of innovation, Loaves & Fishes is calling this evolution Soup Kitchen 2.0. In 2014-2015, they served 154,000 guests with 10 staff and 6,000+ volunteers. In 2016, they are on track with serving over 350,000 meals!
“AnnMarie is fun, sensitive, passionate, collaborative, strategic thinker, strong and steady,” said Cindy McCown, Second Harvest Vice President of Community Engagement and Policy. “She fosters an organizational culture that is inclusive, honoring the contributions of their guests, volunteers and staff.” [Note: AnnMarie was unable to make it to the event, so her staff accepted the award on her behalf.]
Society of St. Vincent de Paul of San Mateo County’s George Chippendale lives the values of the award each and every day. He is incredibly honest and compassionate with his volunteers and those he serves. He does everything with incredible integrity. He has been doing it with passion for longer than Cindy and Susan’s 31 years at Second Harvest. He is the first person to speak up with a question or express a concern. He always puts people first.
Susan Takalo, Second Harvest Director of Community Partnerships, can’t count how many times she’s heard him question the rules about rental assistance. “He is an amazing advocate for his long-term home of East Palo Alto,” said Susan. “He lobbied vigorously for a local shelter so those without housing didn’t have to go to San Mateo or Sunnyvale. He just never gives up.”
Our partner agencies inspire us every day with their commitment to ending local hunger and believing in this year’s conference theme – “putting people first.”