About Us

Founded in 1972, Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz County was the first food bank in California and is the second oldest in the nation. We began by distributing food from a parking lot in Santa Cruz to groups operating the Breakfast For Kids program.

Second Harvest’s mission is to end hunger and malnutrition by educating and involving the community. Through our network of more than 200 agencies and programs and over 3,000 volunteers, over 8 million pounds of food are distributed annually to working poor families, children, and seniors.  Our Distribution Center provides Member Agencies the ability to acquire needed food for their clients.

Our Vision and Goals

Santa Cruz County will be a healthy community where no one goes hungry or has their life opportunities limited due to malnutrition.

  • By 2022, we will eliminate childhood hunger and instill lifelong healthy eating habits to ensure a bright future.
  • By 2022, we will reduce obesity by 10% in Santa Cruz County through access to good nutrition and education.

Our Core Values

Customer Focus
Community Engagement & Empowerment
Empathy & Respect
Social Justice
Trust & Integrity

The Second Harvest Legacy

1972 The first pounds of food are distributed from old Santa Cruz County Hospital parking lot.
1978 Second Harvest moves to a small packing shed in Watsonville.
1979 The National Second Harvest Network is established. Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Cruz & San Benito Counties is one of the 13 founding board members.
1986 Second Harvest moves into its existing facility in Watsonville.
1989 Second Harvest serves then-record numbers of people in relief efforts due to the devastating Loma Prieta earthquake.
1993 Second Harvest Food bank becomes an independent non-profit organization.
1996 Second Harvest distributes 2.5 million pounds of food to clients in its service area.
1997 Food For Children founded with ten sites.
2001 Hunger Study spearheaded by Second Harvest finds growing need and projects a need of 10 million pounds of food yearly by 2015.
2005 Second Harvest launches its Capital Campaign to purchase and renovate the Second Harvest Food Bank in response to the community’s growing need.
2008 Demand for Second Harvest assistance breaks all previous records as a result of the economic downturn.
2010 Passion For Produce program is launched.
2011 Warehouse expansion and upgrade completed.
2012 Second Harvest celebrates 40th anniversary.

Financial and Administrative Background

How We Operate


Second Harvest Food Bank is able to provide 4 meals for every $1 donated. How do we do it? We maintain a small staff and a low 5% overhead. Donations, community support, and thousands of volunteers help us keep our focus on our mission. We are able to purchase fresh produce for pennies per pound from local growers and also receive donations from the local ag community, food industry manufacturers and retailers, federal food programs, food bank networks and community food drives.

See who our valued Food Industry Partners are

Read how we source our food–Where Second Harvest’s Food Comes From

Take a Tour of Second Harvest Food Bank
Second Harvest Food Bank welcomes visitors of all kinds. To sign up for a visit, email Mary.

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