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Keeping Angela’s Refrigerator Full: Investing Talent, Technology and Cash to Help the Hungry
By Randy Pond
At the recent grand opening of a new San Jose facility for Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties – amid speeches from corporate executives; philanthropists, and San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, someone else stole the show.
That was eight-year old Angela, who used to come home from school to an empty refrigerator. Amazingly, she lives in Silicon Valley, one of the most prosperous communities in the world. Angela, whose family now obtains food from Second Harvest, has started her own kind of food pantry, sharing her lunch with hungry classmates.
If Angela can help hungry people, we all can. That’s why Cypress Semiconductor donated the 75,000 square foot building, and Cisco contributed $2 million for renovations. Through the new facility and streamlined processes, Second Harvest can increase distribution by more than 50 percent. Who benefits? The nearly 250,000 local people who rely on the organization for food each month.
Cisco also invested $200,000 in Second Harvest’s innovative food stamp outreach program to help eligible families like Angela’s participate. Last year, our funding helped over 2,200 households access food stamps – that’s worth more than $11 million. On November 1, Cisco will kick off its annual employee fundraiser to address global hunger. Second Harvest is the flagship local organization among 150 food agencies that Cisco supports worldwide via the campaign, through which we aim to raise over $4 million including matching gifts.
Our community efforts, however, go beyond the checkbook. We look to harness the network to help multiply the impact of agencies like the food bank. For instance, Cisco recently donated unified communications and networking infrastructure products to Second Harvest. Its warehouse workers now run radio frequency scanners more consistently, and employees have increased productivity through accessing network services from anywhere in the facility. Improved call routing has helped people rapidly access services.
Perhaps Cisco’s most important community investment is our employees. Last year, they volunteered more than 1,800 hours to Second Harvest, and their cash donations along with matching gifts totaled over $1.5 million for the organization. I’m sure they’ll step up this year, as well.
I look forward to the vital work that Second Harvest will continue to do to ensure that low-income families obtain the nutritious meals they need to lead healthy lives – and that kids like Angela never face an empty refrigerator.