ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Two weeks after weathering public criticism from a Georgia senator, the Second Harvest Food Bank will be shutting down its Albany operation.
Senator Freddie Powell Sims was critical of the organization in early May.
Chief Marketing Officer Eliza McCall told WALB Wednesday that the organization will be ceasing all business and operations of their Albany location, which serves Dougherty, Lee, Terrell and Calhoun counties.
“As many of you know, some community leaders in the Albany area have claimed that Second Harvest is not adequately serving the community and have demanded that we leave,” McCall said. “Over the last 90 days, we have made every good faith effort to address all the issues that were raised to us, but our critics are still calling for another food bank to replace us. This is frustrating and disheartening for our whole team.”
McCall said while the physical operations will end in Albany, Second Harvest has “several programmatic obligations” to meet and the organization will meet with its partner agencies about how the transition will work.
“In the meantime, we guarantee that all of these dedicated organizations will continue, as ever, to have access to the food and groceries they need,” McCall said. “We will supply each of our partners in these counties with product to last for the remainder of the summer; this will ensure that they can continue to serve the community until local leadership is able to implement their plan for a new food bank.”
The organization will also work with Feeding America in the coming weeks to “ensure that the food insecure in this community do not experience a gap in services,” McCall said.
The group drew a big crowd recently in Albany, when it assisted Albany parents by giving out free items to help keep their families fed when schools let out this summer.
Second Harvest also operates in Valdosta, Douglas, and Thomasville, and serves 30 counties.
McCall said the organization is in talks with another South Georgia community that is “eager for us to establish a branch there.”
“We will have an announcement about that in the coming days,” McCall said. "We will continue to serve South Georgia with the integrity and passion that defines our organization, and we thank the Albany area for its support over the last ten years.
This is a developing story and we will update as more information becomes available.