Annual Report 2020

Second Harvest Heartland
Report to the Community

Our Annual Report to the Community shares stories of the ways our teams, partners and communities adapted to meet the many challenges and opportunities 2020 presented.

Setting the Table: THE CRAWFORD FAMILY

Like most of us, Aaron Crawford hadn’t heard of COVID-19 in the early months of 2020. He was too busy looking for work following a recent layoff. As the calendar turned to mid-March, COVID hit our community—and the Crawford household—with the force of a late-season blizzard.

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The Crawford Family

Like most of us, Aaron Crawford hadn’t heard of COVID-19 in the early months of 2020. He was too busy looking for work following a recent layoff. As the calendar turned to mid-March, COVID hit our community—and the Crawford household—with the force of a late-season blizzard. Aaron, a Navy veteran and father, turned his attention to the full-time care of his two young sons who were attending school from home. His wife, Sheyla, continued her essential work at a childcare program.

Just as the family was adapting to a new normal, Sheyla’s hours were cut and COVID diagnoses hit the household, bringing expensive ER visits and weeks of unpaid sick leave. The kids were eating more at home—missing school meals—just as the grocery budget was shrinking. With winter coming, hope was fading for the Crawfords.

A brochure at an Apple Valley public library pointed the Crawfords to 360 Communities, a south-metro community organization offering the family monthly fresh food boxes from Second Harvest Heartland. The team at 360 Communities also helped with a SNAP application just in time. The fridge was full again and precious financial resources were protected to cover urgent expenses like rent payments and clothes for the kids. Aaron and Sheyla felt a moment of stability. They could do this.

Come late fall the boys were back in school and Aaron had secured two part-time jobs. By day, he’s a maintenance worker at a long-term care facility. By night, he’s outside for two to three hours moving freight for UPS (and wishing he could have afforded the subzero Carhartt’s rather than the $100 pair). While his new jobs pay 42% less per hour than his previous work, he’s grateful that they will soon provide health insurance benefits for the entire family. He keeps his focus there and on the cybersecurity courses he’s just enrolled in.

After the most trying year they can remember, Aaron and Sheyla have the peace of mind that comes with food security. “When you’ve got food in the fridge … that just makes all the difference. You feel like you’re ready for what’s ahead. You’ve at least got that. And that’s huge,” said Aaron.

History will remember 2020 as the year of the pandemic, with all its human and economic tolls. The Crawford family story is one of resourcefulness and resilience in the face of these tough times. They met the moment, accepted help when they needed it and are set up for better things to come.

Food Shelves and Hunger-Fighting Partners

Our Agency Relations team supported more than 1,000 hunger-fighting programs across 59 counties and provided 84% of all food distributed by food shelf partners. Together, we delivered more than 105 million meals to the community last year.

Snap Outreach

Our SNAP Outreach team helped more than 12,000 households navigate the hunger-relief system and assisted 6,732 households with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps) applications and re-certifications. This represents an 81% increase in households served last year.

Fresh and nutritious food

More than 63% of the food we distributed last year was fresh—meats, produce, bakery and dairy items. And 38%, or 45 million pounds, of food distributed was produce.

Advocacy

We advocated at the local, state and federal level for hunger-fighting policies, from SNAP to school meals to Farm to Food Shelf, because we can’t end hunger through food distributions alone.

Meeting the Moment

Partner-powered adaptation and innovation in remarkable times

THROUGHOUT THE PAST YEAR, our neighbors have needed more help staying fed and well than ever before. Getting food to people safely and in new ways was an around-the-clock effort, requiring us to reinvent our service model again and again. We were honored to do it, and to bring urgency to our work every day because our scale and efficiency makes us a critical player in keeping food moving when times get tough.

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Meeting the Moment

Partner-powered adaptation and innovation in remarkable times

Throughout the past year, our neighbors have needed more help staying fed and well than ever before. Getting food to people safely and in new ways was an around-the-clock effort, requiring us to reinvent our service model again and again. We were honored to do it, and to bring urgency to our work every day because our scale and efficiency makes us a critical player in keeping food moving when times get tough.

Ready:

It was already clear by early March of 2020: our sourcing and operations teams could see that the pandemic was taking hold. They worked around tightening food supply chains and heard from more people worried about their next meal. Knowing that people could no longer safely come indoors to shop at food shelves, organizing new curbside-to-trunk emergency grocery pop-ups was the order of the day.

Meanwhile, grocery stores—a critical source of food donations for the hunger-relief network—were beginning a similar high-stakes operational shift to keep staples on shelves and ensure staff and shopper safety. Through it all, Mike Stigers knew one thing for sure: the Cub Foods CEO and his team would practice servant leadership and do everything they could to take care of their customers and their communities. One of his team’s first calls was to Second Harvest Heartland, to see how Cub Foods could help.

Set:

A longstanding partner and our largest source of rescued food last year at 11.3 million pounds, Cub Foods powered our emergency food deliveries. Many farmers and retailers followed suit. The team at Fresha, in Morris, Minnesota, is a great example. They were searching for buyers for their delicious carrots that were just a little too imperfect in their appearance for grocery store shelves. A few calls to Second Harvest Heartland’s sourcing team led to weekly deliveries of three-pound bags of carrots, many of which have since been provided to families through emergency grocery pop-ups. To date, Fresha has provided 277,000 of these three-pound bags.

With the food ready to go, our volunteers—socially distanced, masked and limited in numbers per shift—could get to work sorting and packing boxes containing 10 to 12 meals each. Volunteer Dave Windsperger has logged 129 shifts in our new Brooklyn Park Volunteer Center since the beginning of the pandemic. On one drive to his shift last summer, he slowed as he saw cars backed up, cautious and expecting an accident. Instead, he realized the cars were queued up to receive food distributions from a neighborhood church. It choked Dave up, and reinforced why he’s been called to serve (five days a week!) packing emergency food boxes.

Go:

Last year we distributed 259,538 emergency food boxes, enabling quick, contactless curbside delivery. While representing only 3.5% of our distributed pounds last year, they’ve kept Gaylon Moody breathing a bit easier. He’s president of the Le Sueur Food Shelf, an hour southwest of the Twin Cities, where he saw his volunteer workforce shrink and shift as the pandemic took hold. Meanwhile more and more neighbors were calling about food assistance, including many first-time visitors asking for help staying safe and fed. “Overnight, folks who found themselves suddenly unemployed were showing up. Now they’re regulars,” Gaylon explained. “We sure are missing the connection that our food shelf creates for community members and visitors, but while COVID keeps our operations contactless, we’re keeping people fed. We’re meeting them where they’re at until we can meet again in person. That’s important.” Our teams take pride in these efforts and feel called to offer stability when it’s needed most. One of our drivers, jumping into action on an early Saturday morning to get needed baby formula out to the community, said, “Everyone wants to help. We know it’s how we keep our town strong, it’s just that sometimes the troubles of the world seem so overwhelming, we think we can’t make a dent in them, but we can.” He’s right. Read the whole story of our ongoing pandemic response: 2harvest.org/COVID-response.

Fact:

Pandemic Response

Many new approaches to hunger-relief were developed this year, like the 219 emergency grocery pop-up distributions we organized throughout the state in close coordination with food shelves and other partners.

The Crisis that Changed Us

Lending a hand when it’s needed most

UNREST SWEPT ACROSS the Twin Cities in the days following the killing of George Floyd, leaving the communities hardest hit by COVID with damaged or shuttered grocery stores. Second Harvest Heartland leadership was there from the beginning, calling our partners in affected neighborhoods to ask how we could help.

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The Crisis that Changed Us

Lending a hand when it’s needed most

Unrest swept across the Twin Cities in the days following the killing of George Floyd, leaving the communities hardest hit by COVID with damaged or shuttered grocery stores. Second Harvest Heartland leadership was there from the beginning, calling our partners in affected neighborhoods to ask how we could help.

Ready

Water, milk, diapers, formula, hygiene products and cleaning supplies were in short supply and the need was dire. We know how to source and deliver food, but some of these essential items were new territory, so our next round of calls was to our retail and corporate partners. Target Corporation immediately offered water, toilet paper and hygiene products, while Blue Cross Blue Shield provided funding for baby formula. Next, we quickly turned our attention to mass food distributions coordinated with the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Emergency grocery pop-ups were organized at Holy Trinity Church, Powderhorn Park and Hiawatha Leadership Academy.

Set

By Monday morning of June 1, amid sustained unrest, we had distributed a pallet of formula, nine truckloads of emergency food boxes and fresh produce, newly sourced essentials and 1,600 hot meals from our Minnesota Central Kitchen initiative partners.

Our team of 19 drivers made those deliveries possible. Driver Juan Morales joined Second Harvest Heartland just days before the pandemic took hold. Juan’s daily routes take him to Willmar, Ivanhoe, Mankato and spots in-between. Spots, following the uprisings, like the Kmart parking lot on Lake Street. “In the days following the unrest, you’d arrive at an address, but it didn’t seem right. You’d call the customer from a random parking lot, and there they’d show up.” Sometimes it was canopies or tents, alleyways, parks and parking lots. Whatever the inventory, wherever the drop location, Juan and the team delivered.

Go

We now work to consistently stock essentials like diapers, formula and personal hygiene products. And we’ve learned how to listen to a community in crisis, source what’s needed and dispatch it safely to where it’s needed most. We hope we’re overprepared. What we know for sure is that no level of change or hardship should leave us hungry in the heartland, where there’s plenty of food to go around.

Understand the hunger divide and our work confronting it: 2harvest.org/hunger-divide.

Fact:

The Hunger Divide

We must work diligently to close the hunger divide; the unjust reality that Indigenous people and people of color are at least twice as likely to live with hunger. We don’t stop for snow, ice or a raging pandemic. We must direct our logistics, sourcing and food-moving know-how to create a more just Minnesota.

Delivering Peace of Mind

Nourishing community through collaboration

WHEN SCHOOLS SHUTTERED in March, nutrition services teams across Minnesota stretched and struggled to imagine how they could feed the 300,000 plus students who were relying on them for free meals every day.

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Delivering Peace of Mind

Nourishing community through collaboration

WHEN SCHOOLS SHUTTERED in March, nutrition services teams across Minnesota stretched and struggled to imagine how they could feed the 300,000 plus students who were relying on them for free meals every day.

Ready

“We had to flip and pivot in just two days. In normal times, the kitchens at each of our schools are cooking and serving breakfast, lunch and supper to our kiddos, with many also providing a fruit or vegetable snack. We’d be sourcing healthy, local food and developing menus and recipes to serve our 7,500 students—half of whom qualify for free-or reduced-price lunch,” explained Maria Anderson, Nutrition Services Coordinator with suburban Roseville Area Schools.

In-school meals shifted to curbside pickup and delivery of meals to keep students fed for five school days. Second Harvest Heartland’s Child Hunger-Fighting team worked alongside school and district partners to reimagine their work, offer troubleshooting and resource supports and guidance on rapidly changing state and federal policies and to expand grant funding, so no student would go hungry this year.

Set

Just as school kitchens were ramping up to meet the new demand, restaurants, caterers and commercial kitchens were closing their doors, laying off workers and wondering what to do with their well-stocked fridges and freezers. Liz Mullen put those ingredients to use in her kitchen, sure she’d find a home for the meals she was preparing. The Chowgirls Catering Executive Chef called Second Harvest Heartland’s Chief Operations and Programs Officer to talk about the available meals—and kitchens, and teams—and in a flurry-filled few days Minnesota Central Kitchen was born.

Go

In its first nine months, Minnesota Central Kitchen’s revolving team of 15 kitchen sites prepared more than one million meals, available for free to anyone at more than 50 meal sites throughout the Twin Cities metro. Three of those meal pick-up sites were Roseville Area Schools elementary schools where culturally connected, family-sized meals were made to accompany student meals thanks to a Minnesota Department of Education grant and Second Harvest Heartland volunteers.

For Taylor, a working mom of four young kids enrolled at one of the elementary school meal sites, “Having a prepared meal means a lot. You work all week. You come home and all you have to do is put it in the oven. It helps a lot. Not only financially, but it just gives you a little more extra time.”

Learn more about what it means to have dinner ready: 2harvest.org/MCK.

Fact:

More than 60% of the ingredients that make up chef-prepared and partner-distributed Minnesota Central Kitchen meals come from Second Harvest Heartland’s food bank supply chain, local food rescue donations and food hub partners.

2020 Financial Statement

We saw a historic rise in hunger in 2020, leading to a 30 percent increase in demand for food just as it became more expensive and harder to find. The community’s generosity allowed us to meet the moment, adapting to fight hunger through and beyond the pandemic and to prepare for future challenges.


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Financial Statement
Financial Statement

Fueling the Work

2020 was defined by the acts of giving and receiving help. Record numbers of folks experiencing hunger reached out to the emergency food system for assistance with groceries and peace of mind.

 


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Fueling the Work

2020 was defined by the acts of giving and receiving help. Record numbers of folks experiencing hunger reached out to the emergency food system for assistance with groceries and peace of mind. Their needs were met by record numbers of their neighbors, who showed up for them and gave donations to the hunger fight whenever they could. More than 66,000 donors supported Second Harvest Heartland to ensure we were up to the challenges of the year.

One of them, Emily Van Laar, has been a supporter for more than a decade. Taught from a young age by her mother, Sandy, to care for your neighbors (not just those living next door, but those you don’t know), Emily said, “My mom demonstrated that philanthropy is not something one chooses to do on occasion, but rather an opportunity that we can incorporate into our everyday life. I am grateful that my daughters have embraced this philosophy and have joined my mother and me in packing food, collecting for food shelves and volunteering at our local church.”

As a long-time donor, Emily was proud to see how Second Harvest Heartland rose to the challenges that 2020 presented, observing leadership in program execution, sourcing food in creative ways, tackling the logistical challenges presented by the pandemic, maintaining fresh food distribution and more. Resolutely, she knows that 2021 stands to be another difficult year for so many neighbors.

“Some may not be able to give financially, but we can still be philanthropists by our actions, like holding a door for someone, extending a kind word or smile, checking in on a neighbor or volunteering your time. I can think of no better way to overcome the challenges of the pandemic than to give back to each other.”

Fact:

Volunteer Engagement

More than 14,000 volunteers contributed 72,054 hours through food sorting and packing, client support, project-based volunteering and more.

Photo caption: Dave Windsperger (right) and fellow volunteers pack emergency food boxes.

ON THE WORK AHEAD

I’ve said it again and again this year. There’s a whole lot we can’t control right now, but we can control the most important thing: how we show up for one another. I am proud of the ways the Second Harvest Heartland team has shown up for the hardworking, unstoppable hunger-relief network and I am humbled by the generosity the community has shown us, making our massive, around- the-clock COVID response possible. What inspires me most about our community of supporters is their unshakable certainty that, together, we can stand up to any challenge that comes our way. I bring this optimism—and the lessons we’ve taken from this tough year—to the work that’s in front of us.

The work in front of us will not be easy. We must confront the reality that Indigenous people and people of color are at least twice as likely to live with hunger. This divide in who is hungry is a complex problem to be sure, but the hunger-relief network is in the complex-problem-solving-business. This work is already underway thanks to the strong and committed community of partners who stand alongside us every step of the way. We source and supply a lot of food and are offering more of our business to farmers of color. We have stepped up targeted food distributions to reach people of color and Indigenous communities. We are distributing far more culturally connected food to ensure everyone feels welcome at our table.

We’ve always known that the community is only as stable as its emergency response system is strong, but COVID has reminded us that access to food is the bedrock of braving any crisis. COVID has shown us that if people can’t fill their fridges, they can’t stay well or do their part to help their communities respond and recover.

With this knowledge comes a keen sense of responsibility, so we’ve set aside resources to prepare for crises to come, ensuring that whatever challenges come our way, food will be available to help us power through. Our new endowment will safeguard—and grow—our hunger response for good times and bad to come. Please stick with us and keep showing up. It’s hard work, and it’ll take us all, but it’s urgent. Together, we’re ready, we’re set and we’re going.

In gratitude,

Allison O’Toole, CEO
Second Harvest Heartland

"COVID has reminded us that access to food is the bedrock of braving any crisis.”

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