2020 COLGATE BRIGHT SMILES, BRIGHT FUTURES COMMUNITY IMPACT AWARD WINNER
The Junior League of Birmingham
When a Junior League of Birmingham member heard an NPR story about an innovative program in Spain addressing food waste and food insecurity, she knew there was a similar opportunity in Birmingham, the biggest city in a state that often ranks in the top five for “hungry states.” While a second-harvest type organization in town collected large portions of food from groceries for redistribution with the local food bank, literally tons of food from smaller catering events were being thrown away. Meanwhile, we knew homeless and nearly homeless youth from ages 16-22 were falling through the cracks.
To fill these gaps, the Junior League of Birmingham created Second Servings—a program to redistribute food waste to a vulnerable population who often doesn’t receive such assistance.
JLB partnered with two agencies serving vulnerable youth, Project Hope and Youth Towers. They also partnered with corporate cafeterias, restaurants, and caterers. This addressed both supply and demand.
JLB provides leadership from within. Volunteers establish and maintain partnerships with excess meal providers and supply the boots on the ground to deliver meals to partner agencies. Because JLB partners with those who supply the food as an intermediary, financial outlay has been minimal.
Even as a young program, results have been significant. In 2017-2018, its first year of implementation, the program rescued more than one ton of food, equaling more than 1,600 meals for hungry, underserved youth. In just over two years, more than 8,900 pounds of food have been rescued and more than 7,000 meals have been served.