Fort Mill Times

Our view: Second Harvest’s actions are unconscionable

Second Harvest Food Bank’s decision to punish Clover Area Assistance Center for minor grievances, – a clipped fence and other loading dock issues – by placing CAAC on a one-year probation seems out of line with the mission of the organization and its roots.

Second Harvest grew from food industry merchants who realized wasted food could help feed neighbors, according to the nonprofit’s website. Their compassion led to creating a food bank in 1981 to feed those in need in the Metrolina region.

Has this vision blurred?

CAAC leaders announced two weeks ago, it would cut ties with the Charlotte-based food bank and look for another provider because CAAC was unable or unwilling to meet the terms set in the probation. Those terms in a March 2 letter set out by Second Harvest board members and directors from agencies similar to CAAC, said CAAC would no longer receive the free federal TEFAP food, CAAC would not collect food for the backpack program between Second Harvest and Clover School District and only paid CAAC drivers and shoppers would be allowed at Second Harvest.

Denying CAAC access to food the federal government offers for free under the TEFAP program is incomprehensible. More than 60 percent of the Second Harvest food came free through The Emergency Food Assistance Program. The rest cost 16 cents per pound.

And to cap it off, the conditions of probation also mandated CAAC could not communicate concerns “to the public, donors, other agencies and the media.”

For one organization to impose upon another such a harsh probation as punishment for trivial infractions is petty and arbitrary. In this instance, however, such action impacts and interrupts the distribution of food to those in our area who truly need it. Second Harvest’s action is unconscionable. The CAAC food pantry often makes the difference between eating and going hungry for those in need in our community.

Second Harvest is acting disgracefully. Its CEO, Kay Carter, won’t even comment on the situation, saying she is following a policy “not to comment publicly on private details concerning relationships with our partner agencies.”

By its actions, Second Harvest has betrayed the trust of all those across the Metrolina region who dutifully write checks and volunteer their time in support of the organization. According to charitynavigator.org, Second Harvest receives more than $60 million annually in contributions, gifts and grants.

Facing these onerous requirements, CAAC had no choice but to sever ties with Second Harvest and look to alternate and more expensive sources to obtain the food it distributes within our community. We urge our neighbors to donate directly to CAAC.

It appears Second Harvest isn’t living up to it’s slogan posted on its website, “Together we can build a bigger, better food bank,” because it’s unwilling to mend fences with partner agencies on whom so many in need depend.

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