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40 Years of Fighting Hunger & Feeding Hope
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An incredible journey with humble beginnings

Like so many worthwhile things, Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida started as a crazy idea among a group of big-hearted friends. In the early 1980s, Bill Martin read about a "food bank." He wondered if there were people who couldn't afford enough food in his hometown of Orlando and whether there might be "extra" food resources in the community. He gathered a few of his fellow Community of Christ Church congregants around a dining room table to discuss the idea. Little did they know their discussions would become the launching pad for the future of hunger relief for millions of Central Floridians over the next four decades.

From the beginning, volunteer leaders stepped up to lend their time and expertise. They did everything from moving pallets of food, loading boxes, stuffing envelopes, and driving the truck. The dedicated group made steady progress in attracting donors of food resources and building a network of local nonprofit feeding partners. From the beginning, it was clear that one church couldn't solve a problem like hunger alone. A community problem like food insecurity requires a community-wide solution.

By the 1990s, community support led to a much larger facility that could efficiently receive and distribute more food to more partner organizations and more neighbors. Annual food distribution grew from 5 million to 33 million meals over 17 years. Moreover, the feeding partner network grew to nearly 400 locations across six counties. Severe economic downturns and challenges following the 9/11 attacks and the Great Recession stirred the community to stretch and grow the mission again regarding capacity and output.

In 2013, the Morgan & Morgan Hunger Relief Center in Orlando opened. The expanded space and refrigeration allow more than 300,000 meals to be distributed to neighbors across seven counties daily. The facility has helped to attract volunteer and community support to enable additional work to address the root causes of hunger. Through the culinary job training initiative, more than 500 adults facing barriers to employment have embarked on self-sustaining careers in the local hospitality industry. Along with several other programs that also move the needle of helping people get food, the generosity of our community today allows Second Harvest to focus on far more than simply 'food in, and food out.' By investing in job training programs, advocating for access to nutritious foods, and inspiring supporters, Second Harvest is leaning into the root causes of hunger and transforming lives.

After forty years of innovation and change, one constant has been people who care about their neighbors. Thanks to a group of friends gathered around a dining room table with an idea, millions of Central Floridians gathered around a table with the nutritious food they need to thrive - an incredible journey with humble beginnings.

With the caring support and involvement of people like you, the mission continues today and into the future.

Timeline Through the Years

In 1983, Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida opens its doors near downtown Orlando. In its first full year of operations, the Food Bank distributed enough food for 515,000 meals.


The food bank acquires its first two trucks, 'Edyth' and 'Bill.'


Second Harvest serves as a disaster relief hub for supplies heading to South Florida after Hurricane Andrew, preparing the food bank for future disaster relief efforts.


Kids Café launches - Second Harvest Food Bank's first childhood hunger relief program.


The food bank adds a second location in Daytona Beach. Not long after, additional branches opened in West Melbourne (2000) and Ocala (2022).


Requests for food assistance spike as the local tourism economy shuts down after the 9/11 attacks.


Second Harvest and its network of feeding partners respond to three devastating hurricanes in six weeks as a vital piece of Central Florida's emergency response system.


The Morgan & Morgan, P.A. Hunger Relief Center opens, doubling Second Harvest's capacity to distribute more food than ever before.


The Culinary Training Program launches to provide adults facing barriers to employment the skills needed for sustainable careers in food service.


Second Harvest convenes the Health and Hunger Task Force. This coalition meets regularly to identify collaborations with community healthcare organizations to positively affect neighbor's health by using food as medicine.


Mercy Kitchen, a meal production facility, opens in response to the heightened demand for food assistance during the pandemic.

Hope for Tomorrow

Today, Second Harvest distributes enough food for 300,000 meals daily through feeding partners, utilizing a fleet of 22 trucks. Neighbors in Brevard, Lake, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Volusia counties have access to fresh produce, meat, dairy products and pantry staples through emergency food pantries, mobile drops, childhood hunger initiatives and meal delivery programs. The Culinary Training Program continues to add to the workforce with over 450 graduates.

By investing in job training programs, advocating for access to nutritious foods and inspiring our community to get involved, Second Harvest is leaning into the root causes of hunger and transforming lives.

40 Years of Community Impact

Thank you for being part of this transformative mission with us.

Hunger In Our Community
Stories of Hope and Courage Click to read stories of hope and courage
Meet some of the people that your support helps. Read their stories.
Culinary Training program
Your support provides so much more than meals. Meet our students.
Food is more than a meal Food is more than a meal.
Thank you for making a difference. Watch here.
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Contact Us 411 Mercy Drive, Orlando, Fl 32805Ph: 407-295-1066 | F: 407-295-5299 Visit our other sites: Feed Hope Now Blog Partner Agencies gogreenback with Second Harvest Food Bank