Second Harvest
Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz County

Working together to end hunger through healthy food, education and leadership.

Years active: 48

Their story: As the first food bank in California, Second Harvest is also the second oldest food bank in the U.S. Each month, the organization provides 55,000 residents with food donations through their distribution sites and community partners. The organization is led by Willy Elliott-McCrea, who has worked in food banking for more than four decades; he started as a warehouse manager and driver, and was very involved in such efforts in the aftermath of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Second Harvest also runs two programs centered on delivering food and nutrition education directly, Food for Children and Passion for Produce.

Fundraising focus: Raising money is more important than ever for Second Harvest, which has seen demand for food skyrocket during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March, the average number of Santa Cruz County residents receiving vegetables, fruit and other food through Second Harvest’s 200 partner agencies nearly doubled, going from 55,000 clients to over 100,000. Second Harvest went from distributing 650,000 pounds of food a month to 1.2 million. The Holiday Food and Fund Drive is generating some money to pay for much-needed meals. The Wall of Hope Memorial Tiles is another campaign to spark donations. For $700 to $2,000, people can buy engraved tiles commemorating a special person or event. The tiles are tentatively scheduled to be installed on the Wall of Hope at Second Harvest’s Watsonville headquarters next spring or summer. Donors will be invited to a dedication ceremony.

Willy Elliott-McCrea, CEO
Willy Elliott-McCrea

Willy has been with Second Harvest Food Bank for 32 years after starting his food insecurity career in Santa Cruz County as a purchasing agent for Meals On Wheels in 1978.

Our greatest opportunity for value add is to improve the health of our communities through good nutrition

Did you know?

Many of our nutrition distribution sites we would offer cooking demonstrations and nutrition classes? Those have been on hold since March when we really began understanding the full nature of this pandemic.

However, our Nutrition team has been working behind the scenes to reimagine what these cooking and nutrition classes can look like. Visit our Check out the video below to learn how to make a holiday-appropriate, healthy pumpkin pie in this month's cooking demonstration.