With more than 750,000 people relying on food pantries and other public food programs in the greater Atlanta area there is no wonder that the volunteers who commit their time to Second Helpings Atlanta are so busy.
This past Sunday morning we were privileged to personally experience a typical SHA food run and what we saw both astonished and impressed us. Founded ten years ago by the now 87 year-old Guenther Hecht as a social action project for Temple Sinai in suburban Atlanta, SHA is today an independent non-profit organization that utilizes more than 300 volunteers to pick up food largely from local supermarkets and some restaurants, 364 days a year. Our “run” was to one of the many Trader Joe’s that donates daily. Within 15 minutes, two volunteers appeared with their cars and immediately loaded box after box of fresh produce, prepared foods, meats and even beautiful flower arrangements. After a short ride to Malachi’s Storeroom housed in St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, the pantry volunteers helped us unload and weigh the day’s donation. Nearly 1000 pounds of perfectly good, nutritious food was picked up from that one location and while we were still unloading another SHA volunteer arrived with her haul from a nearby Whole Foods. Every Wednesday, the pantry prepares a meal for more than 200 families (which averages about 800-1000 people) and also provides a supermarket-like shopping experience in their pantry. Judging by what we delivered we know that one thing sure to be on this Wednesday’s menu will be a beautiful fruit salad filled with healthy melons, kiwi, pineapple, bananas, apples and pears.
To know that Second Helpings Atlanta repeats this entire scenario several times each and every day is astounding. Even more amazing is the fact that they operate with one part-time employee and a minimal budget.
We couldn’t help but wonder why this model couldn’t be developed in so many more places, eradicating or reducing the seemingly impossible problem of hunger once and for all.