by Beth Meyer
Are you one of those people like myself who gets excited about leftovers?? When I go out to a restaurant, one of my first thoughts is to leave enough for a fancy lunch the next day. So, imagine how excited an organization whose principal resource is prepared and perishable food would be to receive over 1.5 MILLION pounds of “leftovers” a year!
Sadly, Americans are incredibly wasteful when it comes to food, wasting about a pound a day or 27% of our available food supply. This is especially troubling since we have a real hunger problem in our city. Eleven percent of households in Indiana are hungry or at risk of being hungry. This is where Second Helpings steps in. “We’re not just teaching people to cook – we’re providing an avenue for people to transform their own lives. We don’t just collect food – we rescue food because we can’t stand to see it go to waste when others have none.
Second Helpings is not a soup kitchen. It’s a community kitchen started by three chefs who, in 1998, identified four key problems in the food service industry:
- Job Training; and
- A source of skilled labor for the local food service industry.
Their solution? “Turn unused food into meals and jobs.”
Just look at what 3 people have accomplished in 16 years: “In our first full month of operation, 37 volunteers helped rescue 7,000 pounds of food and prepare 3,074 meals. Second Helpings currently turns over 100,000 pounds of rescued food into 50,000 meals every month.”
Just how do they rescue all that food? Six days a week, truck and vans rescue food from local donors (the list of donors is long), with several organizations donating 50,000 pounds of food a year! By rescuing prepared and perishable food, Second Helpings volunteers prepare it into nutritious meals and distribute those meals to 75 social services organizations that feed hungry people.
In addition to rescuing food, Second Helpings has a culinary job training program. Graduates of the program learn practical skills for meaningful jobs in food service, and they also receive training to help them be more successful, including resume writing, job interviewing and stress management. Nearly 500 adults have graduated from the culinary job training program and many are
working as chefs, culinary instructors and business owners in Central Indiana.
Check out a couple success stories of 2 graduates of Second Helpings Culinary Job Training program, and some great pics on their Facebook page:
Providing food for hungry people. Using resources that seems like trash to others, and would be otherwise wasted. Educating people about cooking. Preparing people for success in a new career. Transforming lives through the power of food! That’s the mission of Second Helpings.