Second Harvest Client and Partner Agency Testimonials

The following are testimonials collected from clients served by Second Harvest of the Big and their Partner Agencies.

Client Testimonials

SHBB Client: Ashley Monteith

Interview conducted January 9, 2021 at Second Harvest food distribution in partnership with Four Oaks Community Church in Tallahassee, FL which served 300 families.

As a direct result of Florida’s restaurant closures in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, Ashley’s partner lost his job in March 2020. He was briefly rehired for half salary when his employer re-opened, only to shut down again.

“Our family of nine includes six kids, ranging from 13-22. Our adult kids also worked in food service, and everyone was employed and doing fine prior to Covid.”

“Since March, we’ve just been trying to stay together as a family. We found Second Harvest’s website, learned about your food assistance services, and started coming to your distributions in July.”

“Second Harvest has kept us fed. We only come when we really need help; otherwise, we wouldn’t have enough food to last right now.”

“Our family is very grateful for Second Harvest’s help. We really love what is given out at your distributions, and we can get several good meals out of it.”

SHBB Client: Joveda Henry

Interview conducted July 2, 2021 at Second Harvest neighborhood distribution at Springfield Apartment Complex in partnership with Tallahassee Housing Authority in Tallahassee, FL which served 200 households.

We met Joveda, a single mom, during a Second Harvest food distribution event in her neighborhood, an affordable housing complex for low-income individuals. Joveda is legally blind, and is on disability. She lives with her 21-year-old daughter and three-year-old granddaughter.

Joveda and her daughter both contracted Covid-19 during the pandemic and were hit hard, enduring two-week hospital stays and requiring respirators.

Since her recovery, Joveda has appreciated receiving frozen meats, fresh produce and dry food boxes from Second Harvest. In addition to cooking for her immediate family, she enjoys sharing prepared foods to help seniors in her complex.

“It’s been a wonderful thing. I cook meals for two households; mine and also for a neighbor who takes care of her grandkids.”

“People don’t understand how blessed they are. I want to say ‘thank you’ to Second Harvest for your big hearts.”

SHBB Client: Ken Peterson

Interview conducted January 9, 2021 at Second Harvest food distribution in partnership with Four Oaks Community Church in Tallahassee, FL which served 300 families with produce boxes funded by Wells Fargo gift.

Ken and his wife are Tallahassee residents, and live in Killearn Estates. He is 65, and before the Covid-19 pandemic, he had never been unemployed.

“Right now, we are very income-focused. My wife is still employed, but her salary covers just the basics. There’s nothing left over for the grocery bill or unplanned expenses.”

“It just blows me away that Second Harvest is distributing food in my neighborhood. This helps us so much with our grocery bill, especially the pantry items. Today I see you are giving out steaks, and today’s my wife’s birthday, so we’ll be having steak to celebrate tonight.”

“Your food distributions are one of the things we are most grateful for and look forward to. We have experienced first-hand how you are helping people, and I will be donating to the food bank when I’m employed again.”

SHBB Client: Kim Hart

Interview conducted January 9, 2021 at Second Harvest food distribution in partnership with Four Oaks Community Church in Tallahassee, FL which served 300 families.

Kim and her family of four were still recovering from Hurricane Michael when the Coronavirus pandemic hit.

“We moved to Tallahassee while our home in Panama City was being repaired so that our kids would have a stable environment and hoping to mitigate any undue stress.”

“After Hurricane Michael, our living expenses doubled. We couldn’t live in our damaged home, but we still had a mortgage to pay, in addition to a huge rent payment in Tallahassee, and two utility payments.”

“The pandemic not only escalated food costs, but also slowed down manufacturing and distribution to a snail’s pace. What used to take a month to order, like a garage door, now took six months. Then we were notified by the FBI that our contractor had been indicted on 27 counts of grand theft for stealing insurance money from his clients, including us.”

“Prior to the pandemic, both my husband and I were employed. My husband is still employed, but I lost my franchise business, which involved programming for schools and churches, because of Covid closures and social distancing restrictions. Now franchise investors are suing franchisors like me who can’t fulfill our contracts. I have been looking for another job and continue to be told that I’m over-qualified. It’s so frustrating.”

“In November, I contracted Covid-19, was hospitalized and sick with a 101 fever for 14 days, resulting in pneumonia. On top of everything our family had to cope with, this was additional trauma for my young son. He was so scared that I would not recover.”

“None of these things are within our control. We were solid middle-class citizens; both hard workers and never needed any help before all this.”

“What we people to understand is that there is not one person who hasn’t been affected in some way by the pandemic. We need financial help, and we need it now.”

SHBB Client: Teresa Smith

Interview conducted July 2, 2021 at Second Harvest distribution at Springfield Apartment Complex in partnership with Tallahassee Housing Authority in Tallahassee, FL which served 200 households.

“Thank you. Your food distributions helped my family.”

Teresa is a senior citizen living in Leon County. She lives with and helps provide for her 35-year-old disabled son, who is able to work part-time at Florida State University.

During the past few years, Teresa has been dealing with a number of serious health issues, and has experienced a decline in mobility and stamina. She is grateful for Second Harvest’s neighborhood food distributions, which she can walk to, and particularly appreciates the fresh produce she receives.

For Theresa, Second Harvest’s food distributions come along just at the right time of the month, when her resources are running the lowest, and the cupboards are bare. “Without your help, we could not get by.”

Partner Agency Testimonials

SHBB Partner Agency:   Good News Outreach
Interviewee:                    Rebecca Howard, Director of Operations
Testimonial Date:           October 29, 2021

“Everyone at  Good News Outreach wants to thank all of you for being such amazing partners!

Second Harvest of the Big Bend has given us more than 100 tons (200,000 pounds) of food in 2021.

You have made it possible for us to help over 13,000 people in Leon County, and thanks to you, we can do what we love to do every day…help our neighbors!”

SHBB Partner Agency:   Tallahassee Housing Authority
Interviewee:                    Mike Torres
Testimonial Date:           2021

“It’s the difference between being fed, and going hungry. Essentially, it can be that dramatic.”

SHBB Partner Agency:   Lake Jackson United Methodist Church
Interviewee:                    Art Ulrich, Food Pantry Director
Testimonial Date:           2021

“People need to really be on board in supporting Second Harvest because it’s the driving force. Without them, there’s no way we could truly do what we, and serve the people we do and serve the kind of things we do. When you get a bag of food from us, its quality food, and that’s because of Second Harvest. I want that to be a clear message that Second Harvest is a vital, vital resource to us and to the surrounding counties.”

SHBB Partner Agency: Victory House Community Resource Center
Interviewee:                    Debra Bruce
Testimonial Date:           2021

“Before the pandemic, we were serving about 188 people a month; after the pandemic we have increased to about 400 families a month. We are blessed to have Second Harvest–that they will get out in the community to make sure that neighborhoods get fed.”

SHBB Partner Agency:   Good Samaritan Network
Interviewee:                    Wendy Strickland, Client Services Coordinator

Interview conducted at Good Samaritan Network food distribution event in Tallahassee, FL on May 23, 2020, which served 500 families.

Recently we sat down with Wendy Strickland, client services coordinator with Good Samaritan Network, a Second Harvest agency partner, to discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the organization’s food pantry demand. Good Samaritan Network is an outreach ministry providing services and programs for the local homeless community and victims of human trafficking, and their food pantry is supplied with non-perishable foods, fresh produce, dairy and baked goods from Second Harvest.

In her role as client service coordinator for Good Samaritan Network, Wendy hears many personal stories from the clients they serve.

Wendy noted that Good Samaritan Network and their partners are seeing a continued increase in food insecurity and resulting food needs since the onset of COVID-19. She attributes the increase to many factors, including an increase in domestic violence cases and the closure of many local homeless shelters during the health crisis.

“Some of the increase is from people who were receiving food stamps, but there has been no increase in the amount to meet rising demand. Also, children are home from school therefore the children that were eligible for free or reduced lunch no longer have those food choices.”

She also noted that they are seeing many first-time clients, including those impacted by job loss and an influx of families from south Florida fleeing areas hard-hit by COVID-19.

“We are now serving paraprofessionals as well as professional workers who never came to the pantry before. These are schoolteachers and bankers; these are people that work in attorney’s offices that need food to help supplement their income because they have not received their unemployment check or tax returns,” said Strickland.

SHBB Partner Agency:   Victory House Community Resource Center
Interviewee:                    Pastor LaNorris McFadden

Interview conducted on June 5, 2020 at Victory House Community Resource Center’s food distribution event in Tallahassee, FL, which served 500 families.

Pastor LaNorris McFadden, or “Pastor Mac” as he is called, leads Shady Grove Primitive Baptist Church in Tallahassee. Victory House Community Resource Center is an outreach ministry of the church, and a Second Harvest partner agency for the past two years.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic’s onset, Pastor Mac noted they have seen a big increase in food needs among the community they serve.

“When the pandemic hit, we went hard at it. We expanded our food distributions, and now we are serving close to 550 people each week. Prior to COVID-19, we served that many people in a month. The pandemic reminds us that we are all equal, and that food is a necessity for everybody.”

Pastor Mac feels that his church’s relationship with Second Harvest has been an amazing partnership that helps his church fulfill their mission to serve the community, and to make sure food gets to the people who need it most.

He noted that for some people, the food his church distributes in partnership with Second Harvest is the only food they receive and is desperately needed. Many times, clients line up three hours early for food distributions.

“This is one of the ways we are able to love people in very tangible way. This partnership has impacted our church and empowered our ministry to serve. We look forward to a long partnership with Second Harvest, and we hope to expand to do more for the sake of our ministry.”