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2017 Holiday Food & Fund Drive Kickoff Luncheon

Willy Elliott-McCrea welcomes co-chairs Martina O’Sullivan and Jess Brown to the stage.

The Holiday Food & Fund Drive is off to a flying start thanks to everyone who attended the Annual Kickoff Luncheon on November 2nd at Twin Lakes Church in Aptos.

The drive is Second Harvest’s biggest campaign of the year, and 100% of the food and funds it raises will support its network of 200 pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, food distributions, and programs throughout the county.

This year’s co-chairs— Jess Brown, Executive Director of the Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau, and Martina O’Sullivan, engaged citizen—rallied the crowd to meet this year’s goal of 4.75 million meals, up from 4.5 million meals last year.

“A dollar is not a dollar,” Elliott-McCrea explained. “Every single dollar raised is really more like eight dollars.”

Dorothy DeLisle with Second Harvest’s Jan Kamman

One compelling speaker had only eight years under her belt, proving that Hunger Heroes can be any age. Third-grader Dorothy DeLisle from Valencia School read a speech in which she shared her experience educating her classmates about hunger in the community and raising funds to feed people in need. It only costs 25 cents to give a meal to a hungry person, Dorothy explained. “The more people who know this, the more hungry people can be fed.”

Second Harvest CEO Willy Elliott-McCrea closed the lunch by sharing the three things that make the Holiday Food & Fund Drive so powerful.

“Every single dollar goes to food for our network of over 200 partner agencies and programs—with their 3,000 volunteers—on the ground throughout the county . . . food pantries, soup kitchens, assisted living homes, youth programs, and more,” he said. “So, every quarter, every can, every carrot donated goes straight to nourishing hungry neighbors.”

Continuing with tradition, Second Harvest staff distributed “mini barrels” for the assembled leaders, coordinators, and volunteers to take to their workplaces or private fundraisers to collect funds.

“A dollar is not a dollar,” Elliott-McCrea explained. “Every single dollar raised is really more like eight dollars.” That’s because Second Harvest buys in large quantities, gets steep discounts, and trades food with other food banks.

“Taken together [in this room],” Elliott-McCrea concluded, “we’ve got centuries of experience, and a bottomless reservoir of compassion and energy. So, as we kick off the Holiday Food and Fund Drive, let’s learn from each other, challenge each other, and work together this holiday season to ensure no one goes hungry in our community,” Elliott-McCrea said.