Since Jason Clark took over as president and CEO of Second Harvest food bank about 15 years ago, he has overseen the distribution of hundreds of millions of pounds of food to people in need in Eastern Washington and North Idaho. Second Harvest's main objective of feeding the hungry remains the same, but Clark has seen the operation change drastically.
1. The Shift to Perishables
Clark says a huge proportion of the food Second Harvest used to handle was canned, jarred or sealed in plastic. "That has completely turned on its head," he says. "This year we will be close to 75 percent perishable food." The food bank has changed its facilities to accommodate items that need more careful handling, like fresh produce, so that customers have access to food with more nutritional value.
2. Going Mobile
Second Harvest has built relationships with more than 70 public schools where there are higher concentrations of students on reduced-price and free-lunch programs as part of its Bite2Go project. Clark says that Second Harvest's mobile food bank trucks are feeding around 3,500 kids every week. Similarly, the food bank's mobile market program, which started in 2005, reaches 26 counties in the region. Approximately half of the mobile markets go to rural areas, and can distribute between 8,000 and 9,000 pounds of food in about two hours.
3. Nutritional Education
"We want to become a hub for nutrition education in the region," Clark says. With help from donors and other contributors, Second Harvest built a kitchen for cooking classes and recipe testing in 2015. Clark says the kitchen also helps create a space where volunteers at the food bank can experiment with recipes to find different ways of helping the hungry.