Second Harvest Food Bank is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that collects, stores, and distributes usable foods to its programs and member agencies over a three county area. Below is a timeline of the organization’s history.
1981 – The first Director of Catholic Charities saw the vision of operating a depository of food to service local pantries and soup kitchens. With the help of the Clark County Welfare Department (now known as the Department of Jobs and Family Services) providing a storage space behind the county Children’s home on East Home Road, the concept was off and running. However, only dry storage for non-perishables was possible as there was no refrigeration available.
1985 – The operation moved to Mulberry Street. Each month, area business leaders such as Bill Rollins of Rollins Moving and Storage, Fred Leventhal of Vining Broom, and plant leadership at Navistar (now International Truck and Engine Corp.) would meet and respond to the call as good corporate neighbors through use of their truck fleets and personnel to transfer food from the Food Bank in Columbus. Upon their return, volunteers would be waiting to unload and store the products.
1992 – A warehouse was then rented on West Main Street from Randy Kapp and the “Food Bank” was officially recognized. When the Kroger store on Upper Valley Pike was closed, the Food Bank purchased the cooler and a freezer was provided by McDonalds. However, the administrative offices for Catholic Charities was still located across town on East High Street. Though the distance between the office and the warehouse was extremely inconvenient and inefficient, the Second Harvest Food Bank was most grateful for the facilities and was committed to addressing Hunger in the communities.
2001 – All seemed good until August 30, 2001. A strong thunderstorm roared through Springfield and a lightning strike created a blaze that literally destroyed the building and its 300,000 pounds of food content as well as refrigeration and equipment. The only surviving items were one forklift with a melted control panel and the smoke-filled computer system rescued by staff with the assistance of fire fighters that evening. Four days later, on September 3, 2001, the Second Harvest Food Bank found temporary storage to begin rebuilding in the old and vacant Pentaflex building at 701 East Columbia Street. Thanks to the McGregor family, the 62,000 square foot warehouse was utilized rent free until the Food Bank could rise from the ashes. The damaged forklift was repaired, used cooler and freezer units obtained, and the process had begun to locate food from around the state to meet the ongoing need.
2002 – One year later, through the generosity and assistance of the Turner Foundation, a grant was provided to assist Catholic Charities in the purchase of it’s current location. Not only was it ideal from the standpoint of being central to the city of Springfield and it’s bus lines, it was convenient to trucking routes on US 40, Route 4, and Interstate 70. Purchase of this building also allowed the relocation of other offices into one location increasing the operational efficiencies tremendously.
Present – Along the way, Second Harvest became a member of Feeding America (formerly America’s Second Harvest) and has always played a vital role for the Ohio Association of Food Banks. Today, the Food Bank’s growth continues and the roles as advocates for the Hungry and educators of the public continue to expand, giving voice to those that previously suffered in silence.