Agencies, teachers sound off on Second Harvest departure

Food Partners on Second Harvest/Teachers on Second Harvest

ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - People in South Georgia say they are very concerned about hunger and people going without food, after Second Harvest of South Georgia announced will no longer serve four Southwest Georgia counties.

This comes after some community leaders, most notably Georgia Senator Freddie Powell Sims, said the organization was not servicing the Albany region.

There will be a trickle down effect that we are told will impact many people.

The Albany Second Harvest warehouse houses nearly a million pounds of inventory that is delivered and picked up by at least 30 to 35 partnering agencies a week.

Deborah Flood (Source: WALB)
Deborah Flood (Source: WALB)

We are told that’s equivalent to nearly 800,000 meals.

Deborah Flood is from a partnering agency who said she comes to the warehouse four times a month, and not having it will hurt this community.

Eliza McCall with Second Harvest said they will do what they can-- for the time being.

“We are able to take the little money they we do have, come here and make it stretch. I think everybody is going to be hurt by it closing down, because this is the place you come, even for kids in the classroom who come here and use SNAP,” said Flood.

Eliza McCall (Source: WALB)
Eliza McCall (Source: WALB)

“We are not leaving them high and dry. We will make sure that folks have what they need here, and we will make sure we uphold our obligations,” said McCall.

Second Harvest will continue delivery and pick up operations out of that warehouse, and the summer feeding programs will continue for this summer as well.

There is one program operating from Second Harvest that a select few only have two more days to use. Every year, hundreds of teachers shop for school supplies for their classrooms during teacher harvest. After next week, that will come to an end.

In a matter of weeks, this warehouse with rows of racks filled with food will be empty.

Not because its been given to the community, but because Second Harvest is leaving Albany.

Brian Holt (Source: WALB)
Brian Holt (Source: WALB)

“I never thought it would get to the point where they would pull out the community altogether,” said Brian Holt, who is one of hundreds of people supported by this organization, but not through the food. Instead, through a program that gives teachers school supplies for students.

“To know that it has been in many ways snatched away from us because of some dispute with someone else it kind of seems asinine,” said Holt.

McCall told teachers Thursday that the program would no longer operate in Albany, and three other counties.

“I know they’re disappointed and I’m sorry that they’ve been negatively impacted by this,” said McCall.

One teacher told us this won’t be an easy transition.

People in South Georgia say they are very concerned about hunger and people going without food (Source: WALB)
People in South Georgia say they are very concerned about hunger and people going without food (Source: WALB)

"The number of teachers from our school system alone that participate in this, we are going to have to rely more heavily on our schools to provide some of those extra things we need for our classrooms,” said Amanda Overstreet.

Holt said he want answers from the community leaders that Second Harvest said wants them out.

“You kind of want to look together at politicians everywhere and say 'can we not work together for the good of our communities, can we not work together for the good of not only just food but also supplies for students and schools everywhere?” said Holt.

One could said losing Second Harvest hurts the community on many levels.

“People ask what does it have to do with a food bank and we like to said we are feeding the whole child," said McCall.

Teachers in those four counties will have two days next week, on Tuesday and Thursday, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. to shop for school supplies.

The Teacher Harvest Program will officially end June 1, for teachers in those four counties.

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