Why We’re Here

Second Harvest Community Food Bank is dedicated to providing assistance to our 54,000 neighbors living in food-insecurity in our      19-county service area, across both Northwest Missouri and Northeast Kansas. Second Harvest plays a critical role in providing help to struggling families and seniors in the region.

What does food insecurity look like in Missouri and Kansas? See Feeding America's landmark Map the Meal Gap information for details for every county and every state.
What does food insecurity look like in Missouri and Kansas? See Feeding America’s landmark Map the Meal Gap information for details for every county and every state.

Second Harvest: Powered by the Community to Serve Our Neighbors

Hunger is real and it affects individuals and families in every county of every state. Second Harvest responds to the needs of area families to help build hunger-free communities, utilizing data from sources like Feeding America to identify areas of greatest need.

Feeding America first published the Map the Meal Gap project in early 2011, with the generous support of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and Nielsen, to learn more about the face of hunger at the local level. In August, 2011, with the support of the ConAgra Foods Foundation, child food insecurity data was added to the project. Read more here.


The History of Second Harvest Community Food Bank

There have been many changes and improvements in how we serve our members over the past 35 years, but we are not done fighting hunger! Keep reading to see how your support over the years impacts hunger in the Second Harvest service area.

Spring, 1981: A crisis in the community

During the early months of 1981, the unemployment rate of St. Joseph residents was climbing. While the official rate was recorded at 12 percent, the actual unemployment rate was nearer to 20 percent. When unemployment benefits ran out at the same time that other social service programs were being cut, problems worsened for the unemployed in the area. Phone calls began pouring in to the United Way of Greater St. Joseph Information and Referral line from concerned citizens. The routine dumping of excess food at the city landfill was catching the attention of these community members. Around the same time, another call came in. This call for help came from a family whose husband and father had been arrested for retrieving cans of food from a local supermarket dumpster.

September, 1981: The fight against hunger in St. Joseph begins

On September 21, 1981, Harvesters Food Bank of St. Joseph, Inc. was born through a filing of a Certificate of Incorporation. The organization was created as a central clearing house for edible surplus food and other items received from the food industry and other partners. The donations would be distributed among low-income persons and reduce the costs for charities through the provision of surplus and salvaged food. Jack Habig was named the first executive director in 1982 of the new non-profit food bank, and by 1983 the food bank was officially open. In the first year alone, nearly 160,000 pounds of food were distributed to 41 partner agencies. In 1984, operations were streamlined with the purchase of a van for transporting donated foods. The same year, distribution grew to 300,000 pounds.

1993: Another crisis, another opportunity to serve the community

The flood of 1993 created an emergency in the St. Joseph area. The food bank rushed to help, providing its warehouse and clearing house for more than 270,000 pounds of flood relief product. Adding to the difficulties facing our neighbors was the closure of two major plants that had called St. Joseph home, leaving thousands unemployed. In the midst of these challenges, Leanne Murray took the helm as executive director.

1994: A year of changes for the food bank

Through a capital campaign, the food bank moved into its current location, ready to fill the 16,000 square foot warehouse at 915 Douglas with provisions for our neighbors in need. The need was severe. A poor economy once again highlighted the important role that a food bank held in the St. Joseph community. Food distribution hit a new high at 2 million pounds, and when the USDA commodities were cut by nearly 70 percent, the food bank was forced to find food for hungry neighbors elsewhere. All the while, unemployment continued to creep up in Buchanan County, as well as in four additional counties served by the food bank.

1996: New federal legislation gives food banks a boost…and the food bank gets a new name!

In 1996, food banks nationwide celebrated new legislation that would promote donations on a larger scale. On October 1, 1996, President Bill Clinton signed the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act., which included the following: Standardized donor liability in all 50 states when they donate to a non-profit organization Protects donors from civil and criminal liability should the product donated in good faith later cause harm to the needy recipient Sets a liability floor of “gross negligence” or intentional misconduct for persons who donate grocery products; and recognizes that the provision of food close to the date of recommended retail sale is, in and of itself, not groups for finding gross negligence. There were changes made to Second Harvest that could accommodate the influx of food donations. A 500-square foot cooler was added to the food bank in 1996, as was a 2,000-square foot freezer, expanding the food bank’s ability to handle frozen and perishable food items. In 1996, the food bank was given a new name. Now known as Second Harvest Food Bank/Mo-Kan Region, the name would tie the food bank to the national Second Harvest organization.

2006: Celebrating 25 years with America’s Second Harvest

While celebrating with America’s Second Harvest, the local Second Harvest hit its own milestone, providing 2.7 million meals to those in need. In December of the same year, Scott Tomhave was named the executive director.

November 13, 2014: Second Harvest announces Accreditation from Better Business Bureau

Second Harvest Community Food Bank, a non-profit food distribution center serving nineteen counties in Northwest Missouri and Northeast Kansas, announced today that it has met the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance’s Standards for Charity Accountability and is now a BBB Accredited Charity. Second Harvest participated in the voluntary program because it believes in the importance of accountability and transparency for a non-profit organization. By being evaluated by BBB’s Charity Review Program, Second Harvest allowed an outside third-party to take an objective look at the organization. The Standards for Charity Accountability examine a charity’s governance and oversight by its board of directors, how the organization measures its effectiveness in achieving its mission, its finances, and its fund raising and informational materials. BBB’s Accredited Charity seal provides a clear, concise way to communicate to existing and potential donors and clients Second Harvest’s elite status as a select group of charities in our community that adhere to BBB’s strong and comprehensive standards.