One-in-six people live in a food insecure environment and 40 percent of the food produced in the country is never consumed, that is 165 Billion dollars! If food waste were a corporation on the Fortune 500 list, it would rank right after General Motors. With this information in mind, Joe Labriola, Executive Director of Second Helpings Atlanta joins us on today’s Around Atlanta episode to talk about the hunger and food waste epidemic in Atlanta and explain the simple, yet highly effective food rescue program that the non-profit oversees.
Prior to joining Second Helpings Atlanta in May 2015, Labriola was the Vice President of Product Marketing at PGi, the Chief Marketing Officer at Enterprise Information Management and spent 30 years at IBM before he retired in November 2010. Labriola states that somewhere along the corporate career path he realized this was just not feeding his soul and it was time for Career 2.0. When a job posting for Second Helping’s first ever Executive Director crossed his path, he knew he had to take.
Second Helpings Atlanta is a non-profit food rescue organization whose mission is to reduce hunger and food waste in the metropolitan Atlanta area by rescuing healthy, nutritious, surplus food and delivering it to those in need. In 2018, the nonprofit had a hugely successful year and also went through a rebranding process. They conducted over 8,000 food rescues, meaning volunteers rescued nearly 1.4 million nutritious meals and raised the level of awareness so high that they helped fuel their expansion by 22 new donors. Since its launch in 2004, Second Helpings Atlanta’s network now includes more than 80 Food Donors, 45 Partner Agencies and over 450 volunteer drivers.
Volunteers at Second Helpings Atlanta rescue nutritious, perishable food (dairy, deli, bakery, produce) and prepared food from over 80 Food Donors and deliver it (free of charge) to a network of over 45 Partner Agencies (food pantries, community meal providers, shelters) who feed the hungry every day. “We use something we developed called our 90 Minute Model, where we connect our volunteers with routes that get them from their home, place of work or worship to a nearby Food Donors, using their own vehicle, where they pick up donated food, transport and deliver it to a Partner Agency and return home in 90 minutes or less,” explains Labriola. “We believe this process gives our 450+ volunteers a high impact volunteer experience that has a low impact on their busy schedules.”
A unique aspect of Second Helpings efforts is that they focus exclusively on healthy, nutritious food because many of the clients of the Partner Agencies are surviving on diets consisting mostly of processed food which can contribute to serious health issues later in life. Additionally, Labriola states, “Because the food we deliver is free of charge, money previously spent to purchase groceries can be re-diverted into providing more core services, allowing our Partner Agencies to make a bigger impact in the community without the need to raise more money.”
During the interview, Labriola states some astonishing facts about highly complex food rescues from large scale event venues such as Mercedes Benz Stadium and SunTrust Park. He also mentions that Second Helpings Atlanta was one of three organizations selected by the NFL to do a food rescue during the events that lead up to the Super Bowl. Tune in now with the podcast link above to hear how many thousands of pounds of food was rescued just from large scale event venues!
To learn more about becoming a Food Donor or Partner Agency, to donate or join Second Helpings Atlanta’s community of volunteer drivers, visit secondhelpingsatlanta.org.
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