Michael Alexander moved from Florida to California in 1972 as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer to work with the local Breakfast for Kids Program and start up The Food Bank. As the first food bank in California, its mission was simple and practical for the times; eliminate hunger by collecting surplus food and giving it to people in need.
The first big surplus arrived in 1972 in the form of a 40-ton donation of frozen cauliflower. “We were a small operation,” says Mr. Alexander. “We had one pick-up truck. It was overwhelming but we couldn’t turn it down.”
Mr. Alexander took the cauliflower and began calling schools, nursing homes and social service agencies throughout California. From this beginning, a network of food banks began to emerge statewide, with people coming to Second Harvest’s parking lot every week to exchange surpluses of apples, artichokes, lettuce, oranges, cherries and peppers.
In 1979, Mr. Alexander co-founded the Second Harvest National Network of Food Banks, comprised of thirteen food banks from across the United States. His pioneering work in food banking helped create a critical safety net for people at risk of falling through the cracks.
A natural storyteller, Mr. Alexander will provide a glimpse into the early days of food banking. He’ll discuss how food banks and other grass roots organizations became a catalyst for community engagement and empowerment and how that tradition continues today.
Please join Second Harvest as we commemorate our 40th anniversary on Friday, July 20th.