Homegrown Help

On Wednesday, Second Harvest of South Georgia and AgGeorgia Farm Credit announced Homegrown Help, a new joint initiative to combat the effects of COVID-19 in the area. The Farm Credit cooperative is a long-time supporter of the food bank’s work, but Homegrown Help marks the first partnership between the two organizations. Click HERE to give today!

Disasters and emergency situations like the COVID-19 outbreak compound our existing food insecurity crisis. The pandemic and related closures have drastically increased the need for food assistance in South Georgia. Since March, Second Harvest has distributed double the amount of food it had in 2019 – an additional 2 million meals worth. The need is only anticipated to grow as unemployment benefits run out later this summer.

South Georgia’s agriculture community has likewise been hit incredibly hard. With schools and restaurants closed, our area growers have few market outlets. They have seen too much supply and not enough demand. Few processing options exist in the region to extend the shelf life of these valuable crops.

This is where Homegrown Help comes in – to benefit not just the families needing food but also our area farmers. Funds raised will go to purchase Georgia Grown produce; in turn, the food bank will provide these nutritious fruits and vegetables to families in need. AgGeorgia Farm Credit, as co-founder of this campaign, has committed $25,000 to this initiative as part of a larger $50,000 total donation to regional food banks in their service area. Second Harvest anticipates many local individuals and businesses will want to contribute to this fundraising campaign and has several large donors who have already expressed interested. Individuals can donate by texting “HOMEGROWN” to 619-870-1680, or by going to www.feedingsga.org.

“We really appreciate AgGeorgia and Second Harvest partnering together on this,” said Justin Corbett of Corbett Brothers Farms, long-time produce growers in Lake Park, Georgia. “For many years we have supported Second Harvest and understand the great benefit that they provide in our community. We are also proud to be a member of an organization like AgGeorgia Farm Credit that is willing to step in to help in times like these.”

For Second Harvest and AgGeorgia, the project was the perfect fit and opportunity to work together.

“We are thrilled to partner with Second Harvest on this campaign, and we invite other organizations and individuals to support this effort,” said AgGeorgia Farm Credit Board Chairman Dave Neff. “It is wonderful to be able to get local produce to families in need while simultaneously supporting Georgia farmers.”

“We are so excited about Homegrown Help because of the positive impact it will have not just on our neighbors in need but on the farmers who live, work, and worship right here in South Georgia,” added Eliza McCall, Second Harvest of South Georgia’s Chief Marketing Officer.

Call Center

SHSG needs volunteers to staff a special COVID-19 response project. Many metro areas have a 211 information line that citizens can call to get referrals for assistance. South Georgians don’t have access to that type of service, but Second Harvest is stepping up to help by establishing a temporary referral line.

We are transforming our lobby into a call center to field questions from folks in need in the communities we serve. Our volunteers will refer them to the appropriate group for help. Whether they need food, rental assistance, mental health services, etc., we will point them in the right direction.

This center will be open Monday – Thursday from 8 am – 4 pm until further notice. We are seeking 6-12 volunteers every week to help with this project. The ideal volunteers will have great communication skills, knowledge of the area, and be able to commit to at least one week of half or whole day shifts. Social workers, teachers, and recent college graduates are examples of some good fits for this project. Volunteers must be able to pass a basic medical screening. We will provide lunch each day.

For more information, call (229) 469-6925 or email PR@feedingsga.org.

COVID-19 Protocol

Second Harvest of South Georgia has put the following protocols in place in response to the novel Coronavirus outbreak as of March 23, 2020.

All employees, volunteers, and visitors are screened prior to entering the building. Individuals who are suspected of having COVID-19 or of having been directly exposed to the virus will immediately be removed from our campus and sent for COVID-19 screening.

Return to Work Criteria for Employees with Confirmed or Suspected COVID-19 (derived from the CDC Guidance for Healthcare Personnel)

Second Harvest staff members suspected of having COVID-19 or in direct contact with infected individuals will be sent for screening immediately.  If they do not meet criteria for testing, we will follow the CDC’s non-test-based strategy for returning to work.  Staff members will be excluded from work until:

  • At least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery.  Recovery is defined as the resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g. cough, shortness of breath); and
  • At least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

If staff members were never tested for COVID-19 but have an alternate diagnosis (e.g. tested positive for strep, influenza, etc.), criteria for returning to work will be based on that diagnosis.

After returning to work, staff will:

  • Wear a facemask at all times while in the facility until all symptoms are resolved or until 14 days after illness onset, whichever is longer
  • Be restricted from contact with child feeding operations, partner agencies, volunteers, and immunocompromised staff until 14 days after illness onset
  • Adhere to hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, and cough etiquette in CDC’s interim infection control guidance (cover nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, dispose of tissues in waste receptacles)
  • Self-monitor for symptoms, and seek re-evaluation from medical professional if symptoms recur or worsen

If you have questions about our protocols pertaining to the novel coronavirus COVID-19, please contact us at 229-244-2678 x 1101.

Volunteers – COVID

Second Harvest needs volunteers daily at our Valdosta location beginning Tuesday, March 17 at 8:30 AM to assist with things like packing emergency pantry boxes. This will differ from our normal volunteer specifications. PLEASE read the following details on this process.

  1. We will be limiting to 50 volunteers each day. These volunteers will be working in small, distanced groups.
  2. Volunteers MUST email SHurst(AT)FeedingSGA.org or call (229) 244-2678 x 1102 to register. You will receive email confirmation of your registration. Please do NOT show up unless you receive this confirmation.
  3. Volunteers must be between the ages of 13 and 55.
  4. Volunteers must:
    • be in good health and exhibiting no symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, congestion, etc.)
    • not have been in contact with someone suspected of carrying COVID-19
    • not be in regular direct contact with a high-risk population (elderly, immuno-compromised, those who’ve traveled to high risk areas)
    • be able to stand for several hours at the time
    • be able to lift more than 20 pounds
  5. Volunteers will be screened for symptoms as they enter the building.
  6. Volunteers will be required to wear gloves while handling the food.
  7. Volunteers must NOT wear open toed shoes or tank tops.

Second Harvest of South Georgia will be taking precautions to ensure the safety of our volunteers, our staff, and the clients we serve. Cleanliness and safety are mainstays of our operation, but we will be santizing and disinfecting frequently. We are in contact with South Health District of DPH and will continue to monitor and implement best practices for the health and safety of our community.

COVID-19 Response

Our Second Harvest team is coordinating with communities across our service area to determine where we can best complement relief efforts, if any, that may be planned. We are partnering with area school systems including Valdosta City Schools, Berrien County Schools, Brooks County Schools, Clinch County Schools, Cook County Schools, and Early County Schools to help provide meals to children affected by school closures. Please click on the links or contact the school systems directly for more information.

We are planning mobile food distributions in the future, and we will release that information as it becomes available. If you need help in the meantime, you can utilize our Pantry Finder HERE. We recommend that you call prior to visiting just in case hours have changed.

If you want to help others, you can go HERE to make a donation. We need financial contributions like yours to help us offset the costs of responding to these extraordinary circumstances.

If you would like to volunteer, go HERE for more information.

Thanksgiving for Thousands 2019

IMG_9811 (Medium)This year’s Thanksgiving for Thousands will be bigger and better than ever!  In addition to our Valdosta event on November 26, we are adding a second Thanksgiving distribution in Thomasville on November 23.  Distribution details will be released in the coming weeks. 

Nearly 1 in 5 people in South Georgia struggle with hunger daily, and 1 in 3 area children may go to bed hungry tonight.  We are doing something about that, and you can help.

For $5, you can ensure that 1 family has food this Thanksgiving.  You have the opportunity not just feed bodies but to feed the hope that tomorrow will be better than today.  Each box contains 20 pounds of food and will, with very little supplementation feed a family of 4 for approximately a week.  

These sponsorships can come from individuals, families, churches, or even businesses.  Sponsorships received before Friday, November 16, can include a message of your choice for the box recipient.  The messages (1 per box sponsored) can be “in memory of”,  “in honor of”, “compliments of”, etc.  Even simple messages of hope like “We hope this box brightens your Thanksgiving” may bless those who receive it.

Please help our neighbors in need by sponsoring a box today!

To sponsor a box, click here for instructions on how to complete your donation by mail or in person.

You may also complete your sponsorship online by clicking here. You’ll be redirected to our Donations page.  Simply click the DONATE button at the bottom and make sure you note TGBOX in the Comments field.

You can also get involved by donating your time!  To volunteer, click HERE to register. Volunteers MUST register in advance.

Help. Box. Hope.

On February 12, Second Harvest of South Georgia hosted a disaster box pack in the Rotunda of the State Capitol. The ‘Help. Box. Hope.’ event was the first of its kind on Capitol Hill. The Georgia General Assembly generously appropriated $700,000 to SHSG to help offset our tremendous costs for relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Michael.

We wanted to let the legislators experience firsthand where their investment goes, but we know the demands on their time are great. So, we took the show on the road! We loaded a straight truck with non-perishable food and boxes, and we headed north. We built 200 disaster pantry boxes like storm victims receive. We had more than 50 legislators and elected officials roll up their sleeves and help.?

We are grateful for their support and look forward to continuing to serve our neighbors in need here in Southwest Georgians.?

PUBLIC NOTICE: Request for Waiver

Second Harvest of South Georgia has requested the following waiver for its Summer Food Service Program through USDA. Please contact Winona Green at WGreen@FeedingSGA.org with questions.


February 5, 2019

Sonja Adams


2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, SE

Suite 754, East Tower

Atlanta, GA 30334


RE: Child Nutrition Program Waiver Request – SFSP First Week Monitoring

Dear Ms. Adams:

As an administrative sponsor for the Summer Food Service Program in South Georgia, we respectfully request continuance of the recently rescinded waiver pertaining to monitorings. As requested in USDA Policy Memorandum CACFP 12-2018/SFSP 05-2018, below is a detailed explanation of the need for the waiver.

• Description of the challenge that the waiver would solve, the goal of the waiver to improve services under the program, and the expected outcomes if the waiver is granted:

Recently, USDA rescinded a previous waiver which waived the first week site visit requirement for returning sites that operated successfully during the previous summer and had no serious deficiency findings. (SFSP Memorandum 12-2011: Waiver of Site Monitoring Requirements in the Summer Food Service Program, April 5, 2011)

CHALLENGE: The rescission of this waiver creates a hardship for rural area sponsors like Second Harvest of South Georgia. We anticipate that this will create a barrier to accessible meals for children in need. It will not only prevent us from expanding the program in an area with among the highest rates of child food insecurity in the nation, but it will cause a decrease in the number of sites (and therefore children) that we are able to serve.

We serve a 30 county area that spans nearly 13,000 square miles. Last summer, we operated nearly 20 sites and are looking to increase that number this upcoming summer. In a rural area like ours, our sites can be located great distances from one another. The drive time from our branch to a site can be upwards of 1 ½ hours one way. Scheduling first week monitorings for that many sites while accommodating approved meal service times and driving time requires additional costs for staffing, vehicle rentals, fuel, etc. Our programmatic costs go up drastically while our reimbursement rates will remain the same.

This regulation may be feasible for sponsors in urban areas where all sites are in close proximity, but it puts an disproportionate, and frankly discriminatory, burden on rural sponsors. It creates an disincentive to growing the programs in rural areas.

GOAL: The goal of continuing this waiver is to decrease the administrative burden on rural sites, thereby encouraging rural sponsors to add additional sites.

OUTCOMES: By continuing the first week site visit waiver for returning sites, rural area sponsors like Second Harvest of South Georgia will be more likely to increase the reach of their programs and, in turn, feed more children in need in areas where SFSP sites are few and far between. In Southwest Georgia where the rates of child food insecurity are among the highest in the nation, waiving the requirement for first week site visits will make it possible for us to grow our program.

• Specific program requirements to be waived:

Regulatory Citation: 7 CFR 225.15 (d)

(2) Sponsors shall visit each of their sites at least once during the first week of operation under the Program and shall promptly take such actions as are necessary to correct any deficiencies.

(3) Sponsors shall review food service operations at each site at least once during the first four weeks of Program operations, and thereafter shall maintain a reasonable level of site monitoring. Sponsors shall complete a monitoring form developed by the State agency during the conduct of these reviews.

• Detailed description of alternate procedures and anticipated impact on program operations:

If granted a continuance of the rescinded waiver, Second Harvest of South Georgia (and other sponsors) will conduct site visits to returning sites with no serious deficiency findings within the first four weeks of operation.

• Description of any steps the State has taken to address regulatory barriers at the State level.

To be determined by DECAL

• Anticipated challenges State or eligible service providers may face with waiver implementation.

We do not anticipate any challenges to implementing the waiver since it was in place until recently.

• Description of how the waiver will not increase the overall cost of the program to the federal government.

The waiver will not increase program costs to the federal government. The waiver has been in place until recently. Without the waiver, sponsors like Second Harvest of South Georgia will see increased costs associated with labor, vehicles, fuel, etc.

• Anticipated waiver implementation date and time-period:

We request that the waiver be reimplemented immediately for the upcoming SFSP operational period.

• Proposed monitoring and review procedures:

We will conduct monitoring and review procedures in accordance with SFSP Administrative Guidance published by USDA.

Thank you for your assistance in pursuing this waiver. We are grateful for your continued partnership in feeding the children of South Georgia. If I can provide additional information necessary to submit the request for waiver to SERO, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Franklin J. Richards, II