More than 150,000 people in Georgia don’t have access to healthy, affordable food on a regular basis, according to the non-profit Feeding America.
But when a storm like Hurricane Matthew strikes, that number goes up–and America’s Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia wants to be prepared to help as many as they can if another disaster happens.
News 3’s Courtney Cole spoke to the executive director to find out how they’re preparing for Hurricane Season this year.
The shelves at America’s Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia are packed with food for people in need.
But what happens when a disaster like Hurricane Matthew strikes?
Mary Jane Crouch, the Executive Director of America’s Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia, says, “We immediately started to think about how we’re going to save our food.”
She says those efforts started with making sure that none of it was sitting directly on the floor.
“Everything was up high as we could get it and all the palettes, we took all the palettes that were on the lower level and moved them up.”
Then Crouch says her staff made sure all the trucks were gassed up and the generators were working.
” [We] Got all emergency numbers for our staff members, where they were going where they were going to be, so we could get in touch with them…then we pretty much had to evacuate.”
Only a couple of her staff members stayed behind during the storm.
“The one thing we didn’t do was take the food inland,” Crouch told News 3. That’s what they plan to do differently this year.
“We’ll actually take some of our trucks and position them inland.”
Those trucks will head to Statesboro and Macon if a ‘call to evacuate’ is made. That way, Crouch says if they lose electricity or an unable to get to their facility–they can still help.
“[The] Entire Coastal Georgia is our territory, we serve 21 counties.”
Crouch told News 3 they got their electricity back the Monday after the storm and immediately put out a call for volunteers.
“We packed around 1,000 boxes of food, and that afternoon, we started a drive-through, where people could drive through, pick-up a case of water, pick up some fresh produce and pick up a box of emergency food to get them through.”
The food bank gave out about 4,500 boxes of food before they began to serve hot meals, too!
“We started preparing 5,000 meals everyday,” Crouch said.
Meals people could take home and feed to their families, for lunch or dinner.
“One of the things we felt was the impact, after people came back, was that they lost all the food they had in their refrigerators and their freezers –and if you’re a family struggling to make ends meet, and you come back and you have to replace all that, it’s a real struggle.”
A struggle Second Harvest will be better equipped to handle this year, if necessary.
Click here to learn how you can volunteer with America’s Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia.