Thanks to its efficiency, community involvement and scalability as well as the need it serves throughout the community, the Second Harvest Food Bank is the top non-profit for Silicon Valley Corporations. The San Jose-based organization operates like a business, which appeals to local companies, while serving a very real need that the majority of employees understand.
Providing food to one in ten people in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, its proceeds were $109 million in 2013, making it #5 on the list of Bay Area non-profits based on revenues. This surpasses the YMCA and Goodwill of Silicon Valley and it holds the distinction of being the only food bank to make the list.
The organization began in 1974 in East San Jose and was then called The Food Bank. In 1988, it merged with the San Mateo County Food Bank, forming Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. In 1990, Cypress Semiconductor CEO T.J. Rogers, the first Honorary Food Drive Chairperson, began the movement of companies supporting Second Harvest. This led to the non-profit doubling its warehouse square footage in 1992 to accommodate its growing needs. In 2011, Cypress donated the 75,000 square foot building on Curtner Avenue in North San Jose that operates as the Second Harvest Food Bank headquarters.
Its affiliation with tech companies has continued to grow and evolve over time. Corporations like Apple, Cisco, Oracle, Intel and SanDisk recognize and appreciate that Second Harvest operates like a business, focusing on infrastructure, results, fostering a culture of accountability and corporate partnerships. These and other companies also view hunger as a fundamental problem and that the Silicon Valley is not immune.
“When most people think of Silicon Valley, they think about technology and innovation, not hunger,” said Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. “But there is real hunger in our neighborhoods, including the working families that are struggling to make ends meet. It’s our responsibility to make sure Second Harvest has the resources it needs to provide food to all of these families.”
“Although there’s so much wealth here, it’s kind of hidden — the amount of poverty and need,” said Jennifer Simmons, executive director at the Redwood City-based Center for Excellence in Non-Profits, who has been familiar with Second Harvest since her childhood. “[Since the recession has ended] it’s shocking how people are still utilizing the food bank at the same levels.”
In 2013-2014, Second Harvest provided 62 million pounds of food to those in need. It has a goal to raise $15 million in funds plus 2 million pounds of food during its holiday campaign that ends in January 2016. They have reduced the cost per meal from $3.40 to $2.80, allowing them to provide nutritious meals to over 250,000 people a month.
In addition to monetary support and on-site food drives, corporations and their employees also volunteer at Second Harvest Food Bank, assisting in food sorting and distribution.
Because of its scalability, tailoring its services to the needs of the community and its unique approach to operating like a company, Second Harvest is one of Silicon Valley’s top non-profits.
Odds are, if you work in high tech, your company is probably involved with this amazing organization. If you’d like to find out how to donate or become involved, we encourage you to visit their website.