Second Harvest acquires Albany food bank territory

ALBANY -- A Valdosta food bank has acquired the territory formerly serviced by the Food Bank of Southwest Georgia in Albany.

Second Harvest of Southwest Georgia, headquartered in Valdosta, is a non-profit organization that specializes in the development of charitable feeding programs.

Second Harvest acquired the Albany food bank's territory after the Food Bank of Southwest Georgia's dissolution of membership with Feeding America, the umbrella non-profit business of food banks.

"We are consolidating territories to better sustain the 30-county area. Everything we are doing is a positive change," said Franklin Richards, CEO of Second Harvest of Southwest Georgia.

Second Harvest acquired the Albany food bank's territory in January and Richards said they are working to make sure the needs of the communities are met in an efficient manner.

"Part of the growth cycle is to streamline staff," he said. "We want to make sure the right people are in the right place, whether that be Albany or Valdosta. We need to provide the best possible service."

Richards said the consolidation of the two entities will save money and reduce overhead in operations.

"We will now have a lot more money and better purchasing power as a team," he said. "Second Harvest has also made a $100,000 investment in information technology that allows us to deliver the resources to those in need more effectively."

Richards said the Albany food bank will now have access to that technology and will be able to incorporate it into their day-to-day operations.

"We have a lot of expertise on our staff here at Second Harvest," he said. "It is a great opportunity for both entities to share the wealth of knowledge and experience from both staffs."

In 2009, the Food Bank of Southwest Georgia provided approximately four million pounds of food to more than 300 partner agencies within the 20-county area.

Second Harvest provided nine million pounds of food to 300 non-profits organizations in a 10-county area in 2009.

Richards said Albany food bank programs will not undergo a significant change except for growth.

"We are currently working on growing the Kid's Cafe program that the Albany food bank has," he said. "We are in discussions with several Albany agencies that may serve as new feeding sites for children."

Kid's Cafe is a program that provides free meals and snacks to low-income children through a variety of existing community locations where children congregate.

"Our whole team is excited to help the communities of Southwest Georgia," said Richards. "Our goal is giving the communities the best possible resources."

Second Harvest is also working to move the Albany food bank to a larger building.

Richards said restructuring is scheduled to be completed by March 31.

Second Harvest currently has warehouses in Valdosta and Thomasville, with the addition of the newly acquired Albany unit.

Second Harvest has also planned expansions in Tifton, Douglas and Waycross.

Second Harvest of South Georgia, established in 1982, is a leader in nonprofit food logistics to a network of more than 600 not-for-profit feeding programs in South Georgia.