I am still asked many times about how our team is doing in light of COVID-19.
Pre-March 2020 we had just finished the successful year of 2019. Our food distribution numbers were trending upward compared to 2018 by over 13%. Our new initiatives were continuing to grow, communities were providing strong financial support and our team was moving forward together to grow the impact in support of struggling families.
I felt we were in a good place. If you relate it to physical activity and personal health, we were in decent condition and had a reasonable diet.
When the shutdown occurred and the number of out of work people grew by the tens of thousands, we were catapulted into a new reality. We immediately had to pivot into a new mindset that was trying to vision how to double, triple or quadruple what we had been doing and we had a week or less to figure it out.
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If you think you are in pretty good physical condition, then you arrive at “boot camp” only to find out you’re not as fit as you once thought. We literally experienced some sore muscles, headaches and raised tension levels. We were experiencing growing pains, new routines and new skill sets. But like many great teams who face challenges, obstacles and roadblocks, this team began to stretch, push and pull together.
We began to gain strength and endurance. We began to grow very rapidly and added some great new team members that were recruited for some additional support.
By the end of 2020 we were clearly on a different level of engagement with all our eight-county service area. This also allowed us to take additional steps in programming to target small communities that rarely have access to resources like the county seats have available. Our team was evolving into a well-oiled machine. They were learning some complicated dance steps without injuring themselves or other team members. Yes, there’s an occasional stubbed toe, but we try to practice giving lots of grace. Several new people are making their presence felt in a good way by helping drive impact with the community resources we have been blessed to receive.
Today, this great team is even more capable that it was 3 months ago. The need for service in all the communities is still as high as it was 6 months ago and we anticipate it to remain high for the rest of 2021. Less people are sick, but the number of people out of work is staggering. The recession of 2008 took many years of recovery before there was much to celebrate. I suspect some strong similarities this time around as well.
Looking forward, we have some new plans to roll out, but not until around mid-summer. Our Impact team has all the areas of our current programming growing and have expansion plans before the end of the year. They are being well supported by a strong Warehouse team and an equally talented Philanthropy team. I feel blessed to be part of our Leadership team that is helping chart our course. This team has more than just a strong, well-exercised approach to their work week; they have determination and grit. A talented team takes time to assemble and makes all the difference when the only option is to get it done correctly, completely and on time.
Tim Kean is the president and CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Indiana. The Second Harvest Food Bank network of 95-member agencies, programs, 15 Senior sites and 35 schools provide relationship building and food assistance to more than 67,000 low-income people facing daily instability in Blackford, Delaware, Grant, Henry, Jay, Madison, Randolph and Wabash counties.