Updated: Jul 9, 2021
This week on the blog, I sat down with Assistant Director Nicholas Hubbard to learn more about him and his role here at Second Harvest!
What do you do at Second Harvest Food Bank?
I am the Assistant Director here at Second Harvest Food Bank. My main role is to oversee our operational, strategic objectives of the organization, oversee operations, and also supervise leadership.
How long have you worked here?
I started working at Second Harvest April 8th, 2020, so just over a year. I started in the middle of the pandemic so that was very interesting. Still haven’t worked here yet with the National Guard not here, so that will be interesting when they do finally leave here in a little bit.
Why did you want to work here?
I joined the Second Harvest team because I knew about the mission. I knew the great work they were doing here. I also have a colleague that invited me to the position that became open for Assistant Director. I saw it as a great opportunity and thought that I would be crazy to turn it down. I’m here because I think my skills and experience match the role, and also because it’s a great opportunity for advancing in leadership for my career right now.
What’s your favorite part about working here?
My favorite part about working here probably is seeing people receive the food. I think the most exciting part out of that is seeing people receiving so much food. We give food away, but we give it in large amounts. So one of the exciting things to see is people’s faces light up when they see how much food we’re able to give them because we do food bank quantities — they’re large. But we also want to make sure that we’re meeting the goal of feeding families and individuals three to five days' worth of food. So they’re a little surprised, they’re expecting maybe one or two days' worth of food and we actually give them three to five days’ worth of food. So that’s really exciting to see that. Some people laugh, some people cry, some people are just happy. It’s great to see those reactions that let you know every day that you’re doing something meaningful and important.
What’s your background?
I graduated from Wright State University in 2007 with a bachelor’s in political science. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do with the degree, but I knew that it was writing intensive and that it had a lot of civic engagement. I took a lot of courses that required critical thinking and problem solving, so I knew I’d be doing something probably in leadership. When I first started working, I worked at the domestic violence shelter in Xenia: the Family Violence Prevention Center. I worked there for about three and a half years. Then I took a job at YWCA in Dayton, overseeing administrative activities, as well as the facilities and properties of the organization and the organizational compliance. So I did a lot of different work in the past but my main role has been with community service, social service, specifically domestic violence, for the last 13 years. So I’m new to food banking. It’s different and the same all at once. You’re still working with people, meeting their needs on a regular basis, but it’s different because I work in a warehouse now.
What inspired you to work in the nonprofit field?
One, was the opportunities. So when I first graduated from college, I kind of had that nervous feeling of what am I going to do now? But through college and even before then, I had built some relationships with individuals in the community and had a great opportunity with the opening at the Family Violence Prevention Center. I think my networking experience and the fact that I was able to connect with people during my college career really helped with that.
The second thing was I wanted to do something meaningful, something impactful. I always said I wanted to do a job that’s important and I certainly found all the important jobs, including the one I’m at now. I really felt working in domestic violence and other social services, it felt important, it felt valuable, it felt needed, and it felt like a good fit. When I came to work every day, it didn’t feel like work, it felt like something I enjoyed doing and something that every day when I left, I felt good about what I had accomplished.
Why are food banks so important?
Food banks are important because of a couple different reasons. One, food banks are important because there’s a lot of food waste — less now because of food banks. One of the ways that we and many other foodbanks acquire food is through rescue. That means we’re actually going to stores — Kroger, Meijer, Aldi, wherever it might be — and we’re claiming food that’s getting ready to come off the shelf that’s still good, but the store can’t sell it for whatever reason. Whether it’s because it’s been on the shelf too long or they have a sell-by date and they need to pull it off the shelf because they want it to be the optimal freshness. It’s still good. So what we do is we go every day of every week, we go out to stores here in Springfield, Clark County, Champaign, and Logan County. We drive our trucks out and collect food that is coming off shelves. Even though it’s still good, they’re not able to sell it [but] we’re able to give it away. So when we bring it back to our warehouse, we freeze it, and once it’s frozen, that helps prolong the use-by date. Then we give it to our clients and they're able to use it.
The importance of food banks really is about making food accessible to people in the community who wouldn’t normally have it. The food bank can only do so much. We rely heavily on our agencies to take the food that we collect and distribute it in local communities.
Something surprising you’ve learned?
I learned that food lasts longer than it says on the date on the item. Some food can be frozen. Cans usually last a year past their expiration date, and just a lot of other nonperishable foods last longer. People throw things away because they don't want to use it if it's expired. So just understanding the difference between an expiration date, a sell-by date, and a use-by date. There’s also a fresh-by date!
I learned how incredibly important the Feeding America network is to food banks, particularly small food banks. Because of the Feeding America network, especially in the COVID year 2020, we were able to receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding to support our operations here in Springfield. One of the things we’re really excited about coming up later this year is we’ll be welcoming the CEO of Feeding America, Claire Babineaux-Fontenot. She’ll be joining us for a special breakfast event that we’re holding, so there’ll be more information on that.
June is Men’s Health and Employee Wellness Month. What are some things you do to stay healthy?
Number one, I like to spend time in quiet meditation to get a chance to remove yourself from everything that’s going on in the world. Just sit quietly, think about things, meditate on things, I think that’s very important. Every once in a while, I will roll out my yoga mat and do a little stretching. I don’t do full yoga poses because it hurts a lot after I do it, which probably means I should be doing it more often. But I do roll out the yoga mat and I put on some quiet music and either meditate or stretch.
I try to get enough sleep. A lot of people aren’t getting a lot of sleep and that’s tough on the body. So I try to make sure I’m sleeping well. Eating well is important, don’t always do that as well as I want to. Anytime I have a healthier option I try to choose that. I try to also choose water over other drinks. And then just encouraging others around me to do the same things. Healthy behaviors are contagious.