Spotlight: Banking on Success
Second Harvest’s product line supports its culinary training program.
Courtesy of Second Harvest
When you hear “Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida,” you probably envision rows of canned goods stacked for distribution to needy families. While food collection and distribution lie at the core of its mission, Second Harvest boasts an added component—three social enterprises that raise money for the nonprofit.
The first two have been running successfully for several years—Catering for Good, which provides onsite and offsite catering, and Meals for Good, which produces 500,000 meals a year for recipients like group homes, seniors and after-school programs. But last fall, Second Harvest launched A Spoon Full of Hope, the charity’s signature product line crafted in its commercial kitchen. It’s the first food bank in the Feeding America network to launch a multi-product signature food retail line.
None of Second Harvest’s food donations are used in A Spoon Full of Hope products or its other social enterprises, says Nancy Brumbaugh, the nonprofit’s food service director. With the tagline “fighting hunger, feeding hope, one spoon full at a time,” the product line features fresh ingredients from locally sourced, reputable food vendors, with no preservatives or additives.
Several of the charity’s chefs helped develop recipes for the first products: tomato-basil Soup for Good and shortbread Cookies for Good. (The cookies can be customized with edible logos, such as the Orange County logo that adorned 1,500 cookies ordered by former Mayor Teresa Jacobs.) The third product, organic Honey for Good, taps Goldenrod Apiaries (Belle Isle) and Jester Bee Company (Mims) for fresh-from-the-hive orange blossom, wildflower, palmetto, and mangrove honey. Products in development include seasoning rubs, hot sauces and an Asian sauce.
At the heart of these social enterprises? Funneling proceeds back into the nonprofit’s free, 16-week culinary training program to help at-risk and underemployed adults in Central Florida pursue a sustainable career in the food industry. The program has maintained a 100 percent placement rate, with more than 285 graduates landing higher-paying jobs in convention hotel kitchens, Darden restaurants, Disney properties, and with other business partners.
“They’re not flipping burgers at fast food restaurants,” notes Dave Krepcho, president and CEO of Second Harvest. Instead, they’re starting around $12 an hour in jobs such as prep cooks working under executive chefs. Some are being promoted to sous chefs, while others are opening food businesses or pursuing advanced culinary education at Valencia College.
Understanding the why behind A Spoon Full of Hope is critical, Krepcho says. “Our training program is all about changing lives, giving people a second or third chance.” The signature product line seemed like a natural fit alongside their existing social enterprises. The students hone their culinary skills while getting real-world, hands-on lessons packing honey and assisting with catering and Meals for Good.
One success story? Thirty-seven-year-old Shaneka, who was homeless and had lived in her car for a year with her three kids. After an electrical fire destroyed the car, the Red Cross referred Shaneka to the culinary training program. She graduated two years ago and now works in Second Harvest’s production kitchen—the only grad the food bank has ever hired.
Besides generating revenue to fund the training program, the product line ties into Second Harvest’s goal to engage and inspire the public to end hunger. “We look to our vision as our north star in terms of what we do and how we do things,” says Krepcho. “Now, everyone can participate by writing a check, buying our products, donating food or volunteering.”
The training program costs about $450,000 a year. Through the new product line, Brumbaugh hopes to raise $120,000 in the first year to help defray program costs.
You can buy A Spoon Full of Hope products online at aspoonfullofhope.com, at Second Harvest’s headquarters (411 Mercy Drive, Orlando) or at select retail outlets including Lucky’s Market and GFS Market.