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Effort to help feed 35,000 monthly
Second Harvest Food Bank Program Coordinator Kerri Tapia holds one of the painted bowls that will be available at the Empty Bowls benefit on Saturday, June 1.

A buffet spread featuring steak and chicken prepared by Sysco chefs will feed more than just those buying the $50 tickets for the Empty Bowls Benefit taking place at the Second Harvest Food Bank distribution center on Saturday, June 1.

It will help Second Harvest to work with food banks throughout the Northern San Joaquin Valley and adjoining foothills to help feed 35,000 people each month who are food insecure despite living in what is arguably the most productive agricultural region on them planet.

Given Sysco is donating the food — that includes main courses such as steak and chicken — and other expenses are being covered all of the money received from ticket sales will go toward helping feed the needy in nine counties.

While this is the eighth annual Empty Bowls benefit, it is the first time it will be held at the Second Harvest Food Bank distribution center in Manteca at 1220 Vanderbilt Circle just off Industrial Park Drive. Table settings will be placed throughout the warehouse for guests who will each receive a one-of-a-kind decorative plate or bowl painted by various artists.

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. for the cocktail hour. The $50 ticket also covers two drinks. There will be a silent auction as well as a one-of-a-kind wine auction. Tickets can be purchased online at with more information available by calling 239-2091. Ticket sales are available through next Thursday.

Due to arrangements with farmer groups and food vendors every ten dollars Second Harvest raises leverages enough food for six meals.

Second Harvest handles

15 million pounds of food

Second Harvest Food Bank is not your typical food bank.

That’s because they don’t distribute food directly to those that are food challenged — except for their mobile fresh truck. Instead, they are a distribution center that supplies 92 “food closets” in San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties and three smaller distribution centers that serve food closets in Merced, Mariposa, Tuolumne, Amador, Calaveras, and Alpine counties.

Last year Second Harvest that is part of the Feeding America network that includes 200 similar distribution centers across the country that supply food for food closets in every county distributed 15 million pounds of food in the 209 region.

That food reaches 35,000 individuals each month.

It arrives in the warehouse in several forms. There are gigantic bins of produce that cost the food bank 6 cents to 20 cents a pound via the Farm to Family program that connects growers and packers directly to food bank for low cost fruit and vegetables. They aren’t considered marketable due to size, shape, slight blemished, or overproduction. 

There are pallets of goods delivered by sponsors such as ConAgra Foods. There are gigantic boxes and bins of miscellaneous items pulled from grocery store shelves because they are at or nearing advertised shelf life.

Then there are canned goods and such secured from various collection drives conducted by youth groups and non-profits.

Oftentimes product will make its way to the food bank before it reaches stores because the boxes shrink wrapped on a pallet have outward damage.

The power of

donating a dollar

Fundraising is critical to the effectiveness of Second Harvest. While the donations of large items of food stuff by producers, distributors, and retail stores is the backbone of how the nonprofit agency helps feed some 35,000 people a month, donated funds allows them to purchase perishable items such as produce.

Due to arrangements Second Harvest has made, $1 can buy the equivalent of $5 worth of food.

Agencies that place orders with Second Harvest and pick up food for distribution to one of the 92 local food banks pay a small handling fee of 7 cents a pound.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email