Local businesses, groups lauded for food collection

Second Harvest Food Bank held an awards reception Wednesday
night to thank area businesses and organizations for their
participation in this year’s record-breaking holiday food
drive.
Second Harvest Food Bank held an awards reception Wednesday night to thank area businesses and organizations for their participation in this year’s record-breaking holiday food drive.

The food bank gave out more than 500 awards at the reception at the Museum of Art and History in Santa Cruz as thanks for more than 945,000 pounds of food collected during the drive that ended Jan. 6. The goal was 920,000 pounds.

Sixty-four businesses, schools, organizations and government departments in San Benito County participated. It was the most participation from the county since the drive began in 1988, said Jeffrey Kongslie, Second Harvest development director.

“There was significantly more this year from San Benito County businesses,” he said. “It made the difference for us to make our goal this year.”

Kongslie boasted in particular about donations from businesses in the county. Of the 57 new businesses in SBC or Santa Cruz County that donated to Second Harvest this year, 40 were from San Benito County.

Each year Second Harvest distributes food bins to locations throughout San Benito County and the Central Coast. With an increase in demand for food this year, along with continually rising costs of living, reaching the lofty goal of 920,000 pounds for the region became difficult.

Last year, the drive collected 835,000 pounds of food. This year, as of Jan. 1, the food bank had only collected 800,000 pounds, according to Kongslie. But an unexpected flurry of community support took them over the top.

The reception Wednesday honored all companies or organizations that donated more than 500 pounds. More than 100 business leaders, organizational leaders and food drive coordinators attended, Kongslie said.

Among the local award-winners were Ladd Lane School, the Top Hatters Motorcycle Club, the San Benito County Free Library, the Luck Library in San Juan Bautista and Johnny’s Bar and Grill.

Kongslie said the achievement this year is extraordinary because of the tough economic times. Most other nonprofits have struggled in recent months, he said.

“I think what’s really newsworthy is the fact that this had been, nationally and locally, a year with decreases in donations,” he said.

All food collected in SBC is distributed to the hungry through the Community Pantry of Hollister.

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