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Second Harvest North Florida works to move 24 million pounds of food each year

7:04 PM, Jun 20, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Very few ever get to see what goes on behind the scenes at Second Harvest North Florida food bank. The giant freezers, or the trucks that line up day after day.

Here on the First Coast, more than 24 million pounds of food are distributed each year to feed those who are hungry, a need that continues to increase.

"Our goal is to get as much product and food in here as possible to address the issue of hunger in our community," said Elliot Darkatsh. 

Darkatsh is the director of food procurement for Second Harvest. It is his job to move the food from the donors, to the food bank, and to the various agencies and their customers. 

"On a typical day about 100,000 pounds of food come though our doors," he said. 

The former marketing expert is now using his skill set to handle the logistics for the Second Harvest. 

"On a regional level, we pick up from about 200 retail stores with our fleet and refrigerated trucks," he said.

He said it's critical to ensure that the product is picked up and delivered on time, and turns over quickly.

"I don't want to bring a load in that is going to sit and take up valuable space," said Darkatsh.

Twice a day, he's watching his computer terminal, checking on the movement of the vehicles, watching what donors have to offer.

"I'm typically on this twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon to see what we can bring in," he said.

A few years ago, he began using two computer programs which he said have made the food bank more efficient. 

"Any given Thursday we'll have five routes going around Jacksonville," he said, "It has enabled us to do a lot that we haven't done before."

But he knows the demand for food never stops, and it is is only going to increase. 

"We've made big strides. Two hundred percent growth in three years is big strides but we're still halfway where we need to be to end hunger in our communities," said Darkatsh.

Feeding America is projecting Second Harvest will distribute 40 million pounds of food in 2015.

First Coast News

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