Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Membership Fees for Distribution Agencies Waived in Step to Relieve Struggling Partners

Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties becomes the first food bank in California to stop charging membership fees to their partner agencies

Up to now, Second Harvest's 325+ partner agencies have paid a small annual fee based on size. These fees helped cover costs such as warehousing and distribution. With the current economy, the Food Bank realized that many of their partner agencies were struggling financially, so the decision was made not to charge this fee. Staff at the Food Bank is looking for other ways to make up the money, totaling close to $134,000.

"Waiving the fees was a tough decision," said Cindy McCown, Senior Director of Programs and Services. "We budget for this income, but many of partner agencies are struggling to keep their doors open. Without them, we would not be able to get much-needed food out into the community."

The Food Bank's partner agencies are grateful for the help.

David Cox is Executive Director at St. Joseph’s Family Center in Gilroy. "Prior to this announcement, we would have assumed that the fees would have increased in these difficult economic times. We have always felt that the fees assessed were extremely reasonable and we were always glad to pay them. We will put the savings to good use as we continue our efforts to meet the ever-growing need of food assistance and healthy nutrition in south Santa Clara County."

Poncho Guevara is Executive Director of Sacred Heart Community Services in San Jose. "At a time where resources are stretched to the breaking point, Second Harvest has stepped up in so many ways. This latest example of leadership gives hope that we will not only weather this downturn, but together we will confront these unprecedented needs and emerge stronger."

Second Harvest is part of a network of 205 food banks nationwide working to end domestic hunger. Charging partner agency fees or a per pound fee based on the amount of food being provided is standard and is an important source of money for most food banks. On average, 18% of other food banks' income comes from these agency fees. Second Harvest has a long-standing commitment to strengthening the network of community agencies in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. This led to their important commitment, despite pressure on their own budget.