Second Harvest of the Big Bend Programs Overview


More than 36,000 children are food insecure in the Big Bend. Second Harvest’s child nutrition programs serve children who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches during the school year, but who often do not have consistent, nutritious meals when school is out.

Backpack Program

Children Currently Enrolled in the Backpack Program: 4,500

Backpack Bags Distributed During 2020-2021 School Year: 125,000 (750,000 meals)

The Backpack Program provides food insecure children with a bag of food each Friday to ensure their nutritional needs are met during the weekend. Children take home a five-pound bag containing shelf-stable milk, canned protein, ready-to-eat food; fruit and vegetables; grain and a snack. The food bag easily fits in a child’s backpack.

Second Harvest started the Backpack Program in 2010 with one school site. Since then, it has grown to provide more than 5,620 bags of food every week during the school year to children in Leon, Gadsden, Calhoun, Liberty, Jackson, Jefferson and Taylor counties. This program is funded through individual, business/corporate and organization donors; and also through generous grants.

Program sites are selected based on a review of demographic indicators including the number of students who qualify for free or reduced-price meals. Schools reporting the highest numbers of qualifying students are targeted first. Program sites also are selected based on expressed need from school administrators, staff referrals or community referrals. Teachers of an identified student will send home outreach materials, including program permission slips, to be returned to the school. Parents interested in having their child participate in the Backpack program can reach out to their child’s teacher or guidance counselor.

During school year 2020/21, 19 sites participated in Second Harvest’s Backpack Program:

  • Astoria Park Elementary (Whole School)
  • Bond Elementary (Whole School)
  • Boys & Girls Club of the Big Bend at Sunrise
  • Conley Elementary
  • Fort Braden Elementary (Whole School)
  • Gilchrist Elementary School
  • Gretchen Everhart
  • Griffin Middle School (Whole School)
  • Hartsfield Elementary (Whole School)
  • John G. Riley Elementary (Whole School)
  • Nims Middle School (Whole School)
  • Oak Ridge Elementary School (Whole School)
  • Pineview Elementary School (Whole School)
  • Ruediger Elementary
  • Sabal Palm Elementary (Whole School)
  • Sail High School
  • Second Chance
  • Springwood Elementary School (Whole School)
  • Woodville School

School Pantry Program

The School Pantry Program is currently funded through donations made by A Full Summer fundraiser; other private donations and grant funding.

Kid’s Cafe Program

The Kids Cafe Program provides free, nutritious food to adolescents in our community. Meal service at each location begins at 3:00 PM, and no sign-up is required. Second Harvest currently sponsors the program at seven Leon County locations:

  • Lawrence-Gregory Community Center
  • LeVerne Payne Community Center
  • Palmer Munroe Teen Center
  • Walker Ford Community Center
  • Pinewood Place Club
  • Springfield Place Club
  • Sunrise Place Club

Summer BreakSpot Program

The Summer BreakSpot Program provides a free, nutritious meal and/or snack to children 18 and under during summer months when children might otherwise go hungry. Our 2022 Summer Breakspot Program runs from June 6 – July 29, and includes eight locations in Leon and Madison counties.

By providing meals during the summer months, Second Harvest helps ensure that children continue to have a stable source of food for their nourishment and growth when school is out.

Food on the Move

Also operating during summer months, Second Harvest’s Food on the Move van delivers free food to kids 18 and under at underserved communities in Tallahassee.


Senior Grocery Program

The Senior Grocery Program helps feed low-income seniors at the end of the month when their financial resources have been exhausted. Currently, the program provides food to more than 1,200 seniors each month. Seniors are served at participating Second Harvest Partner Agencies in Gulf, Leon, Jackson, Jefferson and Taylor counties.

All seniors 60 or older qualify for this program. Eligible seniors can enroll at one of the following 10 participating distribution sites:

  • Innovative Charities – Jackson County
  • Elder Care Services – Jackson County
  • Jefferson County Senior Center – Jefferson County
  • Flipper Chapel AME Church- Leon County
  • Georgia Bell Dickenson – Leon County
  • Good News Outreach – Leon County
  • Big Bend Cares-CarePoint – Leon County
  • Frenchtown Neighborhood Improvement – Leon County
  • Fellowship Baptist Church – Taylor County
  • Pioneer Bay – Gulf County

Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP)

Number of seniors served each month: 950

The Commodity Supplement Food Program (CSFP) is a USDA foods program administered by the Florida Department of Agriculture through contracted feeding agencies. CSFP’s purpose is to help improve the health of low-income elderly persons at least 60 years of age by supplementing their diets with nutritious USDA Foods. The food packages are made up of self- stable goods intended to supplement a senior’s nutritional needs for a month.

Second Harvest of the Big Bend contracts with the Florida Department of Agriculture to provide CSFP to a designated number of senior citizens residing in the following north Florida counties:

  • Calhoun
  • Liberty
  • Madison
  • Hamilton

While our partner food bank, Bread of the Mighty, assists us in providing CSFP in:

  • Dixie
  • Lafayette

To be eligible for the program, a senior citizen must meet all three requirements:

  • At least 60 years or older
  • Must live in one of the six identified counties
  • Income at or below 130% of the Federal poverty line (based off of household size)

Senior citizens may register for the program by attending a scheduled sign-up session, and providing one form of state identification that validates their residence and age.

Eligible seniors receive food packages once a month. They also will receive letters via the US Postal Service, phone calls or text messages from Second Harvest staff informing them of when and where to pick up the month’s food box. Each food box is roughly 40 pounds and may include:

  • Cereals
  • Bottled juices
  • Canned meats, fruits and vegetables
  • Shelf stable and instant dry milk
  • Peanut butter
  • Dried beans
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Cheese


Mobile Pantries

Second Harvest’s mobile pantries directly serve clients in areas of high need, often supplementing other hunger-relief agencies in a particular area. They allow for quick disaster or crisis response.

With mobile pantries, a truckload of food from the Second Harvest warehouse is loaded onto a Second Harvest truck, and is distributed directly to clients. An average mobile pantry serves 200-300 families; and can serve up to 1,000 families.

Mobile pantry distribution models include walk-up, neighborhood distributions, and drive-thru distributions that allow for social distancing and no client contact (food is placed directly into client’s trunk or back seat by Second Harvest staff or volunteers).

Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)

The Emergency Food Assistance Program is a federal program that supplies food banks with foods from the USDA to distribute to those in need. These supplemental foods range in variety greatly and include items such as fresh fruit, frozen ham and ground beef, canned vegetables and fruit, peanut butter, dried beans, and fruit juice. TEFAP product is distributed to Second Harvest partner agencies which must adhere to strict compliance regulations.

Disaster Response

Second Harvest serves as one of Feeding America’s three emergency food distribution hubs in Florida and contributes to the statewide coordination of emergency food and water in response to disasters.

As part of the Big Bend COAD (Community Organizations Active in Disasters) which includes the Red Cross, Salvation Army, the Emergency Operations Center, Volunteer Leon, 211 and others, Second Harvest provides food, water and other necessities prior to and following disaster events. Second Harvest also works in conjunction with Feeding Florida and its other 11- member food banks to cover disaster situations throughout the entire state of Florida.

In the Tallahassee warehouse, Second Harvest stages supplies for COAD members to supplement their supply chains. In conjunction with Feeding Florida, Second Harvest also stores disaster relief product for the Florida Department of Emergency Management.