Project 30 to Revive a Giving Tradition in the Big Bend Community

America’s Second Harvest of the Big Bend collected food and snacks to feed the hungry in the community. Photo by Travis Milton


America’s Second Harvest of the Big Bend collected food and snacks to feed the hungry in the community. Photo by Travis Milton



By Travis Milton
Outlook Writer

One in every 6 adults and one in every 4 children of the Big Bend community are “food insecure,” meaning they struggle to have enough to eat. That means more than 98,900 people in our community are hungry.

September is Hunger Action month and America’s Second Harvest of the Big Bend is on a path to raising $30,000 in 30 days to carry their funds to restore their Senior Grocery Program. That’s just one of many other programs that they provide to 11 counties through their network of 130 partner agencies in the community until 2017.

Second Harvest’s $30,000 fund raising initiative, better known as Project 30, is a community effort and challenge to local businesses, sponsoring agencies, churches and faith based organizations, as well as the assistance of individuals to help fund not only a great effort in the community but a weekly tradition that has been around since 1986.

CEO of America’s Second Harvest of the Big Bend, Jim Croteau, says that since the initiative came about that it has received great feedback and help towards their goals.
“The response from the community has been tremendous,” Croteau says.

AARP has already contributed $12,000 towards their goal, which will help in the continuation of the Senior Grocery Program. Other contributions have been pledged from Bethel Missionary Baptist Church and other companies such as Sachs Media Group.

Out of every dollar donated, 97.4 cents goes directly to feeding the hungry.

“The need is always there,” says Jessica Cary, Director of Development for America’s Second Harvest of the Big Bend.

In the Big Bend, about 700 senior citizens receives nearly 10 pounds of food a week. It costs the Second Harvest nearly $3,000 a month to fund the Senior Grocery Program.

Rev. Wil Merrick, a board member of the Second Harvest of the Big Bend, talks about the health conscious foods that they provide for the dietary needs of elderly individuals and the many sites throughout the city where they distribute food.

“We have over 60 partner sites in Leon County alone,” says Merrick.

Along with the 11 counties – Leon, Gadsden, Calhoun, Franklin, Gulf, Jefferson, Liberty, Taylor, Madison and Wakulla that currently receive food will expand to 14 counties for the USDA products that Second Harvest distributes.

America’s Second Harvest of the Big Bend provided nearly 7 million pounds of food in 2014, with more than 6 million meals to families and individuals and they want for those numbers to increase.

Second Harvest receives CHSP (Community Human Services Partnership) funding and grants annually, along with outside and church donations but this year the amount they received was not what was expected.

“We’ve got a gap to make up,” Croteau says.

He goes on to add how Second Harvest looked to cut some of their programs in order to keep the Senior Grocery Program running, but he’s assured that Project 30 will be a major success.

“It’ll all come together to help us get through,” says Croteau.

Other initiatives that the Second Harvest have underway is the new “2K Club” which involves inviting local businesses to put on a food drive and to match the amount of food donated with dollars.

For every five pounds of food donated can provide four meals and every dollar donated can buy five pounds of food to provide four meals to feed hungry individuals.
The Project 30 will officially launch on Sept. 14 and will conclude with a close-out reception on Oct. 13.

For more information on America’s Second Harvest of the Big Bend, Project 30, or how you can donate, visit