COMMUNITY: Second Harvest of Silicon Valley makes thousands of meals for Bay Area residents

2020 - Second Harvest of Silicon Valley

The San Jose Earthquakes and Wells Fargo are humbled and inspired by the amazing work of our frontline communities and neighbors in this time of crisis. Each week, we’ll be featuring and highlighting the work of one fantastic neighborhood hero, showcasing the great work they are doing and the organizations our community can rally around.

Additionally, a donation will be made to an organization or community project on behalf of each week’s hero. This week we will be donating to Second Harvest of Silicon Valley. 

One in 10 people living in the Bay Area have received assistance from Second Harvest of Silicon Valley. Pre-COVID, the SHSV food bank was serving roughly 250,000 meals a month. Since the COVID outbreak, demand has more than doubled.

Danny Gilmore leads a Volunteer Services team at SHSV which has been serving thousands of meals daily since the COVID outbreak. 

“Volunteering is the biggest way to help, and donating money is a great way to assist us so we can buy food for our community,” says Danny. 

The food bank has adapted to the sudden influx of demand with the help of many volunteers like Danny. Instead of the typical 2-hour shifts, many volunteers help out most of the day to keep up with the community’s needs. 

Since COVID, the National Guard has been working alongside the SHSV volunteers. Over 40 volunteers and 60 Guards work per shift. The amount of volunteers can often reach up to 150 in a single day. 

“Before them, we would not be able to get these items packaged and prepared to be distributed,” says Danny. 

The SHSV operates out of three main sites in San Jose, San Carlos and Cypress Center. These sites work with over 300 community partners such as food pantries, educational organizations, faith-based organizations, and more.

The SHSV receives food donations and purchases food from large corporations, packs them, then distributes them directly or transfers them to community partners for distribution.

Food distribution used to happen in farmers market-style, but now it involves pre-packaging and curbside pickup/delivery for minimal contact. “Now, you’re being handed a box with selections of some of everything we have that day,” Danny says. 

Danny says one dollar given to the food bank can go a long way. For example, canned goods purchased for a dollar and then donated do not go as far as one dollar donated to the SHSV could. “We have the ability to turn a single dollar into two healthy meals,” she says. 

The food bank has always operated within health and safety guidelines, and they are continuing to follow social distancing guidelines. All volunteers are provided with gloves and masks upon entry, and are reminded to wash and sanitize their hands frequently.

Danny has always had a passion for helping others. Aside from leading the volunteer effort, she is also a Red Cross instructor and gives CPR and first aid training to foster care agencies. “I wish I could do more!” she says.

To read more about the Second Harvest of Silicon Valley, click here.