TIFTON — Second Harvest, a non-profit that supplies food to area food banks, is moving operations to Tifton.
“We’re very excited to get here to the Tifton community,” said Frank Richards, CEO and director for Second Harvest of South Georgia. “We’re excited about what we have to bring to help our community do well.”
The new facility will be located on Windy Hill Road and is expected to open in the first week of September.
“We’re moving into two facilities here, a 20,000- and a 30,000-square foot facility,” he said. “Right now it’s a blank slate, but over the next six weeks these beautiful, brand-new warehouses will be transformed into the new Feeding America affiliate, Second Harvest of South Georgia.”
Feeding America is a national network of food banks that supply food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and other community-based agencies.
Richards said that they will be moving in freezers, coolers, racks and shelving and, eventually, tons of donated food.
The location is ideal because it is right on the Interstate 75 corridor, which will make donation pickup and delivery more efficient and thus cheaper for the 26 counties Second Harvest of South Georgia serves, according to Richards.
“We serve all the way north to Crisp (County) and Cordele as well as Americus,” he said. “To the east we go to Douglas, Ben Hill, Irwin areas as well. It’s a great location for us with great highway access. (It’s) also very convenient for our local organizations that we serve and provide food to. Right now we serve a little over 70 organizations in the region and we’ll grow that pretty quickly once we get here and get open.”
He said that South Georgia has some of the higher rates of food insecurity in the country.
“One in 4 children deal with food insecurity in the region,” he said. “(Food insecurity) for the adult population is extremely high for this region. Bringing these programs like USDA Georgia State Nutrition and the foods and products we work with every day will help feed the families in South Georgia.”
While Second Harvest is not open to the general public, they will be bringing in programs that directly benefit the community.
“In the long term we’re going to be installing our commercial kitchen operation for our Kids Cafe facility,” Richards said.
Kids Cafe is an after-school meal service program that provides free meals and snacks to at risk children.
Richards said that they are also going to bring a senior food box program to Tift County as well.
“We’ll work with local partner organizations,” he said. :The senior boxes will start being available sometime in the fall.”
Darian Peavy, CEO of the Tiftarea YMCA and current Tifton-Tift County Chamber of Commerce chairman, said that Second Harvest opening a Tifton location is important for the community, from both a feeding kids standpoint and a economic standpoint.
“I’m excited,” he said. “Right now we have 500 in our (YMCA) feeding program. We have 75 with the after school programs. We’re hoping to get a grant to also provide a community center, so we’re excited as far as Tiftarea YMCA.”
Peavy said that Second Harvest locating in Tifton would give better access to its resources and programs to local organizations as well as provide approximately 10 new jobs.
“Anytime we can get access to jobs here in Tifton, it’s going to bring the economy up,” he said.