Our History

Serving the community for over 45 years.

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.

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 Dedicated the expanded warehouse and offices on Ohlone parkway, enabling more efficient on-and off-loading of trucks, solar powered coolers and more office space, doubling the facility size to 36,000 sq ft, tripling cooler space for fresh produce and upgrading the receiving, sorting and distribution areas.  
2017 Second Harvest named Organization of the year Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce 
2018 Second Harvest partners with UCSC’s Blum Center on Poverty, Social Enterprise and Participatory Governance to conduct another hunger study, concluding that 43% of food assistance needs went unmet in families earning $50,000 or less, and that residents of the county were missing 21 M meals annually
2019 Willy Elliott-McCrea becomes Board Chair – again – for the California Association of Food Banks 
2020 Second Harvest responds to the Pandemic Shelter in place AND the CZU Complex fires in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  Sees need for services double over night
2020 Second Harvest awarded Biggest Hero Company from Santa Cruz Sentinel Readers Choice Award 
2021 Continues distribution 65% more food than pre-pandemic, supporting over 75,000 people monthly throughout Santa Cruz County
2021 Second Harvest named Organization of the Year Pajaro Valley Chamber of Commerce & Agriculture
2021 WEM awarded Life Time Achievement award through Aptos Chamber of Commerce