United Way and Second Harvest Form Strategic Partnership to Better Serve Low-Income Residents

7.25.17 - United Way of Greater Lorain County and Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio have announced a strategic partnership to help both organizations better serve low-income individuals and families who need assistance in meeting their basic needs.

Second Harvest and United Way both recognize access to food, affordable housing, income support, and utility assistance as the highest needs in Greater Lorain County, with food assistance now being the number one unmet need according to data from 2-1-1. Additional data from the Map the Meal Gap report shows more than 43,000 people are food insecure in Lorain County.

Highlights of the partnership include United Way matching dollar-for-dollar – up to $50,000 – donations designated to Second Harvest through the annual United Way fundraising campaign. United Way will also provide volunteer assistance for Second Harvest’s upcoming direct distribution farmer’s markets, providing fresh produce to low-income families.

Second Harvest will partner with United Way in determining the feasibility and possible implementation of hosting a food distribution assistance program out of United Way’s new Center for Community Transformation building which will open in downtown Lorain in August. In addition, the agencies will mutually apply for grants and seek other alternative funding sources to support their overlapping work.

"Second Harvest is striving to create innovative partnerships to address the key issue of hunger and harness the power other organizations possess to address the holistic needs of the people we serve,” said Second Harvest president and CEO Julie Chase-Morefield. “Our strongest chance to create a better future for families in our community is together.”

The United Way led United Community Assistance Network (UCAN) is working to meet the needs of working families who need financial assistance during a short-term crisis situation, such as unpaid medical leave. Prior to the launch of UCAN over three years ago, rent and utility assistance was the number one unmet need according to 2-1-1 data.

Second Harvest provides food and grocery products to 100 food pantries, hot meal and children’s programs in the county. Through its vast network of partner charities and now through direct distribution, Second Harvest continues to increase the amount of food it distributes and will need to continue to do so in order to meet the rising need.

Through these existing programs and collaborations, both organizations are currently serving the same population. The new partnership will provide a mutually supportive relationship that advances the ability of both partners to meet the overlying needs of their clients.

Conversations about the data and a desire to streamline the process for helping people and families in need brought the two agencies together.

“We are excited to formalize this partnership with our friends at Second Harvest. By addressing these most basic of needs, we can go on to support educational achievement, living wage employment, strong families, and optimal health throughout our community,” said United Way of Greater Lorain County executive director Bill Harper.

United Way will also continue to provide volunteers to Second Harvest through its Lorain County Volunteer Connection partnership with HandsOn Northeast Ohio. Lorain County Volunteer Connection projects are hosted at Second Harvest on the second Tuesday and third Monday of each month, with a new volunteer orientation taking place before the Monday project. These volunteers will also assist at the on-site farmer’s markets as scheduled throughout the growing season.