Raising Awareness of Hunger

The things that Second Helpings Atlanta can tell you about the paradox of food waste and hunger would surprise you. The nonprofit has rescued more than 9 million pounds of food for people in need since it started in 2004.

“Yes,” said Joe Labriola, Second Helpings Atlanta’s executive director. “1 in 6 people live in a food insecure environment with no ready access to affordable nutritious food.”

Labriola laments that 40 percent of food produced is never consumed.

Volunteers rescue 100,000 pounds of food every 22 days, yet he and food pantry directors say that a food insecure family of four misses an average of 100 meals per month. And the elderly can be significantly impacted by food insecurity due to limited income.

Every week, members from a team of 450 volunteers rescue food from grocery stores, big box retailers, as well as corporate kitchens and event venues like Cox Communications in Dunwoody and Mercedes Benz Stadium, respectively. Volunteers then make deliveries to food pantries, housing facilities and organizations that provide community meals.

Mercedes Benz stadium is an example of what one entity can do, Labriola said. Second Helpings has rescued 89,679 pounds of food from the venue since it opened in August 2017.

“That [turned into] 75,000 healthy nutritious meals that we have been able to push out to neighborhoods around that stadium,” said Labriola. “We really are a logistics group. We get food from one place to another.”

Guenther Hecht, a Holocaust survivor, started Second Helpings at Temple Sinai in Sandy Springs. His inspiration for the nonprofit came from the help his family received after arriving in the United States in 1938.

A student team from the University of Georgia called the “Talking Dog Agency,” has recently provided skilled marketing and social media services for the nonprofit, assisting with presentations, press releases and blog posts. Their work on an annual fundraising campaign last year increased engagement on Facebook and Instagram, and raised $18,807.

“It’s gratifying that our work is making an impact,” said senior Gina Karseboom, the account executive on the Talking Dog team. “The experience has really opened my eyes to hunger, sustainability and food issues. I just wasn’t aware of it before.”

<em>secondhelpingsatlanta.org</em>

Each Sunday we write about a deserving person or charity events such as fun-runs, volunteer projects and other community gatherings that benefit a good cause. To submit a story for us to cover, email us at ajc.doinggood@gmail.com

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