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Inaugural Harvest Breakfast

Updated: Dec 3, 2021

This morning, Second Harvest Food Bank CCL hosted our first annual Harvest Breakfast. Nearly 200 people were in attendance, eager to learn more about the breakfast’s theme of Food is Health and hear from our distinguished keynote speaker, Feeding America CEO Claire Babineaux-Fontenot.

Due to the rise in COVID-19 cases in the area, the inaugural Harvest Breakfast transitioned from a sit-down breakfast event to a more theater-style seating arrangement where attendees could practice social distancing. Everyone received a to-go breakfast box at the end, and some lucky attendees also got to take home a fruit basket!

Food is Health

The inaugural Harvest Breakfast kicked off with Maureen Massaro, Second Harvest Food Bank Board President, welcoming everyone and highlighting the food bank’s journey to becoming an independent, locally-owned nonprofit in January 2020. Massaro thanked our many sponsors for the inaugural Harvest Breakfast, including Mercy Health, our presenting sponsor, and Dayton Children’s, our Health Sponsor.

Marianne Potina, Vice President of Mission Integration at Mercy Health Springfield, spoke for a couple minutes about the partnership between SHFB and Mercy Health. Mercy Health has always been a big supporter of Second Harvest Food Bank, donating proceeds from its virtual gala to support SHFB’s immediate needs and to set up a one-call system for the food bank. The one-call system shares critical information about our programs and distributions to our clients, reaching over 23,000 people and delivers 2 million messages annually.

Over the last two years, SHFB has built strong partnerships with local healthcare providers to create programs and initiatives addressing health disparities related to food. Second Harvest’s mission is to provide nutritious food to alleviate hunger. The emphasis on nutritious food is only strengthened through our partnership with Mercy Health. There is a direct correlation between access to healthy food and healthy living, so SHFB has been working to leverage that correlation through strategic programming. There are currently food pantries at Springfield Regional Medical Center, Mercy Health Urbana Hospital, and Mercy Health Cancer Center, where case managers and social workers assess patients to determine food insecurity. Eligible patients receive a bag to pick up with their belongings when they are discharged that is filled with nonperishable foods specific to the needs of clients with a chronic disease.

“This partnership provides an opportunity to promote wellness through healthy eating,” Potina shared. “Together, we are present to the needs of the communities we serve.”

Brandy Phipps, Second Harvest Food Bank Board Secretary, spoke further about the concept of Food is Health, highlighting the intersection of health and food access. Across the nation, 60 percent of Americans have at least one diet-related chronic condition, such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and metabolic syndrome. Furthermore, 4 in 10 Americans have two or more of those chronic conditions. Cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes are in the top 10 causes of death in the state of Ohio. When you look at the numbers of chronic conditions in Clark, Champaign, and Logan Counties, those numbers are even more staggering.

“Your support makes it possible for Second Harvest to continue meeting the needs of our neighbors and to expand our services and partnerships to have an even greater impact,” Phipps said. “Thank you for joining with us to create stronger and healthier communities through hunger relief.”

Partner of the Year Awards

Nicholas Hubbard, Assistant Director at Second Harvest, spoke about Hunger Action Month. Hubbard encouraged everyone to “reaffirm your commitment to contributing to the cause that believes no one should go to bed hungry.” Today, September 3, was also National Food Bank Day, and he recognized the SHFB staff, other Ohio food banks, and local agency members in attendance.

Our work would not be possible without the dedication and commitment from our network of partner agencies throughout our communities. To celebrate our 40th anniversary, SHFB established the Partner of the Year Award, which was awarded to an exemplary partner from each county. Zac McPherson, SHFB Program Manager, highlighted the hard work and efforts of every organization in our network.

“One of the things I’m most proud of is the partnerships we’ve been able to cultivate with over 100 nonprofits, churches, mosques, schools, universities, senior living communities, and more. Of these groups, those operating pantries and meal sites to directly serve their neighbors and community have experienced change and need at an unprecedented level over the last 18 months,” McPherson said. “During this pandemic, while people stayed home and stayed safe, many of our partners worked, rallied, pushed, persevered to serve their neighbors. Together, we stood up, we faced the challenge, and met the need in our community, and we continue to do so right now and into the future.”

McPherson then presented the Partner of the Year Awards to three partner agencies who exemplify what it means to fight hunger. These organizations have gone above and beyond in their service and dedication to feeding our neighbors during the pandemic, staying open and consistently finding new ways to serve while keeping everyone safe.

St. Paris Federation of Churches received the Partner of the Year Award for Champaign County. Despite going through leadership changes, St. Paris Federation of Churches managed to add to the services they provide. On top of their food pantry, they have partnered with local libraries to provide take home bags for children and participated as a meal site for our Summer Feeding Program.

The Clark County Partner of the Year Award was presented to Dunamis Ministries. Even though the organization had to completely redo their service model, they continued their normal service and made sure to provide an extra pickup every week for fresh produce.

“Whether it be partnering with local businesses to provide hundreds of holiday meals or checking in with every neighbor they serve to make sure they have a turkey or ham on their table, Dunamis found a way to do more when more was needed,” McPherson shared.

The last Partner of the Year Award was given to Buckeye Gospel Barn of Logan County. Their focus has always been on the need of their neighbors, recruiting extra trailers and pickup trucks as soon as the pandemic began to get extra food, which led to extra orders, new distribution hours, and hundreds more neighbors fed through a new home delivery system.

“They took every challenge and turned it into an opportunity to do what they do best, and that is serve their neighbors,” McPherson emphasized.

Local Food Insecurity

SHFB Executive Director Tyra Jackson spoke about local food insecurity trends and thanked everyone for attending and for all their support as Second Harvest transitioned into an independent nonprofit. She noted how the community stepped up in an enormous way when the food bank was close to shutting down before gaining independence. Jackson often thinks about the “what if” scenario had the community not been able to keep SHFB open. Over 60 percent of the people we serve have at least one job, sometimes two. And yet, because they picked up that extra job or got a $0.25 raise, that means they lost their SNAP benefits or medical insurance.

“When they try to do more and do better by themselves, oftentimes they’re set back. Food banks provide a support system that allows people to keep food on their table while using unrestricted dollars for rent, utilities, toiletries, gas or transportation, and medication," Jackson said. "This is why we’re here. This is why food banks matter.”

In 2019, Second Harvest Food Bank served more than 37,000 people. In 2020, that number rose to 65,000. In 2021, we’re expected to serve more than 50,000 people as the effects of the pandemic remain and the need for food continues. In Jackson’s 6.5 years as SHFB’s executive director, she’s seen over a 100 percent increase in the number of meals we have served, with more than 10 million meals distributed this past year.

Second Harvest met that increase in demand through expanding existing programs and creating new services. In addition to the medical food bag program with Mercy Health mentioned earlier, SHFB started a home delivery system during the pandemic. SHFB has a team of dedicated drivers that deliver meals to 340 homes every week in our three-county service area. We partnered with local health departments to provide food to people who were quarantined. We also developed partnerships with veterans offices and churches to conduct street outreach, and we provide boxes of food to homeless shelters twice a week.

1 in 3 children in Clark, Champaign, and Logan Counties may go to bed hungry, which is higher than the state and national average. As a result, we have a robust children's program with our BackPack and Summer Feeding Program. We assisted school districts with food when schools were shut down during the pandemic, making sure those who relied on school lunches were still able to eat. Over the summer, more than 2,000 children were served meals seven days a week. With more than half of the people we serve consisting of children and seniors, it’s important that we continue to grow and adapt our programs and services to support the health and wellbeing of our community.

Keynote Speaker

Then, our keynote speaker Claire Babineaux-Fontenot took the stage, sporting a fabulous orange double-breasted jacket in honor of Hunger Action Month. As the Feeding America CEO, she provided great insights into national food insecurity trends and how the Feeding America network has adapted and persevered through the global health pandemic that disrupted our food system. While farmers were forced to throw their eggs away and dump their milk out, grocery shelves were empty. The failure of our food system also affected food banks all across Feeding America’s network, since retailers are the number one source of food for many food banks. And throughout this food system disruption, the need for food in communities dramatically increased.

60 million people across America turned to the charitable food system in 2020. For 40 percent of those 60 million people, it was their first time turning to the charitable food system. Food banks, including SHFB, stepped up for those 60 million people, providing 6.1 billion meals throughout the Feeding America network.

Babineaux-Fontenot reminded everyone that the fight to solve hunger is a marathon, not a sprint. “It’s going to take all of us united to solve hunger,” Babineaux-Fontenot said.

She shared an African proverb, “You can’t eat okra with one finger,” which speaks to the power of the collective and how the best things are accomplished together. Babineaux-Fontenot then presented Tyra Jackson with a pin of an okra, reaffirming the strong partnership and collective power of the Feeding America network, Second Harvest Food Bank, and our partner agencies and community members in Clark, Champaign and Logan Counties, as we stand together to alleviate hunger.

We are so grateful to have had the opportunity to host Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, who shared some insightful stories and statistics that inspire us to continue the work we are doing. Thank you to Mercy Health for their impactful partnership and for making our inaugural Harvest Breakfast a huge success, as well as Dayton Children's all our other sponsors for making the event possible. And finally, thank you to all our partners who were present and all the community members who attended to learn about Food is Health. Through our continued learning as a community, we are able to provide healthy, nutritious food to those who are hungry and take collective action to eliminate hunger in our area.

Take action this Hunger Action Month with a donation to SHFB or volunteer with us.

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