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Thursday, April 30, 2020

How Nonprofits Innovate Amid COVID-19


According to our recent survey of rated nonprofits, 33% of organizations have experienced a disruption in their supply chain due to the pandemic. Additionally, 23% of respondents are reporting an increased demand in programs. To overcome this disruption and to continue to serve communities in need, many nonprofits are adapting and innovating.

Today, Harald Herrmann of Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County (★★★★) shares how his team is navigating the pandemic and continuing to combat hunger in Orange County, California.

"Before COVID-19 made its way to the shores of America, our team was already putting a strategy in place. We held an all-hands meeting and decided to divide the organization into three working teams and two packing sites. We made the difficult decision to suspend our distribution center volunteer operation in order to further harden our perimeter. In response to the closure of our volunteer experience and because of the critical need for food processing staff, we also hired groups of part-time workers.

Our management team, along with specialists comprised of more than 20 individuals, have been meeting daily since March 9 to prepare for what is now very real: The closure of public schools and the historic economic impact brought on by physical distancing requirements.

In anticipation of quarantined seniors throughout the county and the disruption to Kids Cafe after-school sites—where children receive, in many cases, their most reliable meals while schools are in session—we modified our delivery construct. We began assembling one-week supplemental, shelf-stable supplies of boxed food. We have ramped up our crisis inventory by 40% to serve a rapidly growing population of food insecure individuals. They are the most vulnerable and the newly vulnerable; those severely impacted by job loss. To meet this growing need, we are moving more than 7,000 boxes of food per week; nearly 3 million pounds of food per month. Additionally, we have calculated that moving forward, we have the capacity to serve upwards of 50,000 households through a box program every week.

The Honda Center and the Anaheim Ducks organization have generously offered us their parking lot for a weekly Pop-Up Drive-Thru Food Distribution held every Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to noon. We are currently serving 4,500 vehicles or households weekly with the capacity to serve 10,000. We have staffed this Pop-Up with 150 volunteers along with Second Harvest employees.

Our mindset: We are a small but mighty team of 80+ at Second Harvest Food Bank! We have a plan. We have an outstanding group of committed individuals working together to serve everyone at risk in our community. We are committed to keep food flowing because quite simply, this food bank cannot close."

Now, more than ever, nonprofits like Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County need your help. If you’re able, please consider supporting innovative services like these during the pandemic. Join a day of unity and giving on May 5, 2020, for #GivingTuesdayNow.

Learn more at charitynavigator.org/gtnow

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