To keep up with growing demand, Silicon Valley’s largest food bank is moving to a new home in the Alviso area of North San Jose.
The new location for Second Harvest of Silicon Valley will consist of three connected single-story buildings covering approximately 250,000 square feet. The space will consolidate the food bank’s three locations to reduce costs and improve efficiency. The new buildings will also house offices for operations and a volunteer center.
“Operating three warehouses in one city requires duplicative equipment, inventory and processes to manage,” CEO Leslie Bacho said in a statement. “We have also been working with inadequate infrastructure to address the high level of need such as insufficient freezer, refrigeration and office space. Having a permanent location with increased capacity also allows us to flex when we are required to respond and support future emergencies and disasters.”
There will be no food distribution at the new site. Second Harvest distributes food through more than 300 partners at more than 900 locations. The food bank also operates a delivery program for homebound clients. The food bank serves about 500,000 residents each month—double the number of people who used the services prior to the pandemic.
The expansion comes as the pandemic continues to impact food security for Silicon Valley residents, including college students. Roughly 29% of San Jose State University students experience food insecurity, according to a recent basic needs survey by SJSU Cares, the program that runs the food pantry on campus. More students came to the pantry on Aug. 16 than any day last year, according to a Spartan Food Pantry Instagram post.
Charitable food use increased overall in America in 2020, with nearly one in five non-elderly adults relying on food banks. In San Jose, the high cost of living has exacerbated the issue of food insecurity.
Second Harvest does not anticipate a decrease in need any time soon, with households facing delayed bills that have accumulated during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We also know from past times of crisis when there have been spikes in need for food assistance—the Great Recession, for example—that the level of need has not gone back down to pre-crisis levels,” Diane Hayward, spokesperson for the food bank, told San José Spotlight.
Projections for this year show about 60,080 Santa Clara County residents live in very low food secure households, according to the Feeding America research team.
However, the population represented in this estimate is not the same as people who use food banks. The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines very low food secure households as having “reports of multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake.” Second Harvest clients may be food secure because of the food bank’s support, or highly at risk for food insecurity.
“We hope that the unprecedented charitable response during the pandemic played a role in alleviating existing food insecurity and preventing it for those on the edge,” the Feeding America research team said in a document accompanying the projections report.
Second Harvest hopes to continue expanding distribution efforts to meet the needs of the post-pandemic world.
“We want to make nutritious food accessible for anyone who needs it,” Hayward said. “We are always looking at opportunities to increase our presence in the community and make it easier for people to get nutritious food.”
Contact Kristen Pizzo at [email protected]