It takes organization, commitment and dedication to help feed those who are hungry.
One of those leading the way is the Second Harvest Food Bank, which helps individuals from throughout Riverside and San Bernardino counties. It began in 1980 in hopes of trying to solve the dual problems of hunger and food waste.
It has grown and expanded in order to fill a great need. Second Harvest Food Bank salvages usable but unmarketable food and because of its size it is able to successfully work with more than 450 corporations, wholesalers, farmers, retailers, brokers, local food drives and individuals.
It works as a network providing food in massive amounts. Each month, Second Harvest distributes more than 1.9 million pounds of food to emergency food pantries, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, day care centers, senior food programs and shelters.
Donated items are transported to the main warehouse in the organization's eight semi trucks and 19 trailers, where it is sorted and distributed. Approved program partners then receive the food and bring it back to their individual agencies to give to the hungry men, women and children in the Inland Valley. Although the nonprofit is very successful at what it does, the need keeps increasing, according to Daryl Brock.
"Those charities then are able to come by once a week and shop for what they want or need. We are the central warehouse for hundreds of local charities that help 350,000 to 400,000 people.
"Without the food bank, there would have been a crisis. For every $1 donated, we can buy $20 of food. All the small food donations done in local cities are very beneficial, but we deal in volume. Right now the situation is manageable, but clearly there is never enough to meet current needs."
Brock began as a volunteer back in 1980. He has seen Second Harvest Food Bank grow to what it is today in response to the community's need.
Housed in a 54,169-square-foot facility in Riverside, the nonprofit serves as the facilitator of food distribution to more than 400 nonprofit agencies in the two-county region. One of the largest nonprofits that uses Second Harvest is the GAP Food Bank in Rancho Cucamonga.
Brock said GAP Food Bank goes above and beyond what most people would expect while providing excellent service to the community. The GAP Food Bank, however, has its hands full. It has reached its full capacity - helping 450 families. It is no longer taking applications for assistance. Interested individuals can check back at the beginning of the new year, said Pari Blackman, GAP director.
"We wish we could help more, but we are maxed out right now and unfortunately that is very usual. The holidays are coming up and we always get more requests then but we are trying to address food needs each and every week," said Blackman, who has been in her position for 18 years.
"It's unbelievable the changes we've seen in the last couple of years. It's gone beyond the working poor. I had a man in here the other day who was making $100,000 a year and then lost it all," she said. "People have lost businesses. Their lives have changed forever."
Although help is appreciated, Blackman said she has more than enough volunteers.
"What we need is food. What we're asking is that everyone go to their company, their church or their school and have a food drive," she said.
"This really can be simple. What we're asking is that when you go to the store, pick up an extra load of green beans or whatever. Or donate. A $100 donation is huge for us because we can literally load a truck with food for $200. This truly is a case of a little going a long way.
GAP Food Bank delivered 450 turkeys to families it serves this past Thanksgiving. It now has 200 turkeys and hopes for more donations for Christmas.
"But there isn't really any deadline. We provide food to those who need it each and every week. Our client profile is a household headed by a single mom with three or four children with no dad in sight. We also now have a high senior population who is living on a very tight and limited income. What I'd like to say is we can make this happen. This is a community effort," she said.
The GAP Food Bank accepts food donations on Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., with mornings being better. The organization is at 8768 Helms St., No. A, Rancho Cucamonga.