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Second Harvest receives national recognition

Many people across the Mahoning Valley understand the wonderful work being done by Second Harvest Food Bank.

Second Harvest’s staff and 153 member agencies and programs work tirelessly every day in an effort to make food accessible to all people in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties.

It’s nice when our neighbors recognize the good work being done by local people for local people.

But it’s even nicer when someone outside our community takes notice.

That’s exactly what happened recently when Second Harvest Food Bank was honored as one of the top charities nationwide by Charity Navigator.

Charity Navigator, the nation’s leading charity evaluator, assesses nearly 10,000 nonprofits across the United States each year, examining their financial health, transparency and accountability, among other things.

In its most recent evaluation, Second Harvest was awarded its fifth consecutive four-star rating — Charity Navigator’s highest rating. Only 15 percent of charities nationwide earn the four-star rating five years in a row.

This prestigious honor demonstrates that Second Harvest outperforms most other charities, not only locally but nationally. This designation sets the food bank apart from its peers and demonstrates to the public its trustworthiness.

Hungry people throughout the Mahoning Valley can depend on Second Harvest to provide them with the nutritious food they so desperately need. And donors can count on the food bank to be good stewards of their money.

In times of crisis, communities come together and organizations’ true colors shine. Nowhere is that truer than in the Mahoning Valley and right here at Second Harvest Food Bank.

COVID-19 was a real eye opener for many throughout the Mahoning Valley. The pandemic had a direct impact on many organizations, businesses and individuals, especially those in need of emergency food assistance.

People lined up at food pantries, soup kitchens and traveling food pantry sites to get much-needed emergency food assistance. Many were recently laid off, finding themselves in line for food for the first time.

We all saw the cars lined up waiting to get food so desperately needed. What we might not have seen is the people coming together behind the scenes to make it all happen — the hard-working team at Second Harvest Food Bank and its 153 member agencies and programs.

The people distributing food the past several months were our community’s frontline defense against hunger. Second Harvest Food Bank is the Mahoning Valley’s first responder for emergency food assistance during times of crisis, as well as for those who struggle to meet their food needs every day.

Second Harvest distributed 11.5 million pounds of food in 2019 and is on pace to distribute more than 15 million pounds in 2020. During the pandemic, Second Harvest was able to get literally tons more food out to hungry people in our community, without missing a beat.

In the last three months, Second Harvest provided more than 170,000 meals to more than 18,000 hungry people each week. Since the start of the pandemic, the food bank has distributed 3 million pounds of food more than had been distributed through the same time period in 2019.

Second Harvest’s staff members were true heroes in this time of need for our community. I’m proud to serve this wonderful organization.

What makes me even more proud is knowing that the food bank goes about accomplishing its mission the only way it knows how — by doing the right things for the right reasons (if you don’t believe me, ask Charity Navigator).

If that’s the kind of organization you’d like to support, I encourage you to lend a hand to Second Harvest in its efforts to feed our hungry friends and neighbors.

Tony Modarelli is president of the board of directors of Second Harvest Food Bank, and owner of three Sparkle Market locations in the Mahoning Valley.

columns@tribtoday.com

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