JLB Second Servings, a Junior League of Birmingham initiative, provides food to those in need

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The women of the Junior League of Birmingham’s Second Servings initiative. Photo via JLB

It’s no secret that food waste is prevalent in the U.S. Experts estimate that we waste 30 to 40% of our food supply, which equates to 400 pounds of food wasted annually by the average American. How do we fix this?  The Junior League of Birmingham is helping with their Second Servings initiative. Find out how.

“The Junior League of Birmingham is always looking for opportunities to get involved in the community and to address needs that maybe haven’t been met by other agencies or other non-profits.” 

Tarika Bhuta

In 2015, Tarika Bhuta, a member of the Junior League of Birmingham (JLB), heard a NPR segment about a “solidarity refrigerator” in Spain. This refrigerator was set up for people to drop off leftover food or food that would go to waste. This food would go to feed those who were food insecure. Feeling inspired, and with her JLB being on the Community Research Committee, she created a proposal for a new JLB Pilot Program, which was presented for consideration. Through the Community Research process, which is the JLB process to allocate funds and volunteers to community partner agencies,  JLB Second Servings was born as a League-Initiated Program. 

What Is JLB Second Servings?

JLB has Second Servings refrigerators at Project Hope and Youth Towers. Photo via JLB

JLB Second Servings is an initiative from the Junior League of Birmingham (JLB) designed to rescue perishable prepared food and deliver it to those in need. Here’s how it works: After a corporate event, party, or wedding that has been catered, there is often leftover food. If someone from the event notices there are enough leftovers to feed 10 to 15 people, that person would email the JLB Second Servings Committee and the JLB sends a volunteer to pick up the food. The donated food then goes to one of the two JLB Second Servings refrigerators and feeds those who are food insecure, rather than going into the trash.

Where Are The JLB Second Servings Refrigerators?

There are currently two JLB Second Servings refrigerators (the JLB would like to expand, as their food pipeline expands) — one at Project HOPE, and one at Youth Towers. These centers both work with food-insecure youth and young adults in different ways: 

Project HOPE works with homeless youth aged 16 – 21. It is a street outreach and drop-in day shelter for homeless youth in Birmingham. With the refrigerator on-site, homeless youth can stop by and enjoy a hot meal while they receive such services as access to clothing, personal care items, shower and laundry facilities, a place to rest and a Social Worker to assist youth in developing a plan for their future. 

Youth Towers is a Birmingham agency that works with young people who have aged out of the foster care system. They work to take preventative action in order to keep those who have aged out from becoming homeless. They assist them by offering services like basic living skills training, public bus passes, a hot meal, job interviews, clothing, mentors and more.  

You’ll notice that both of these agencies list “a hot meal” as one of the services they can offer the youth they serve. These meals are made possible by JLB Second Servings and the food that is donated to them. 

Required Parameters for Food Donations: 

Second Servings is a JLB initiative. Photo via JLB
  • Must have been prepared in a commercial kitchen
  • Must be more than 10 servings
  • Must be within a 10-15 mile radius of Birmingham
  • Must be prepared with 24 hours of recovery
  • Must be packaged in disposable containers and ready for pick-up

How to Donate: 

The JLB Second Servings Journey

“Why would we want to feed the landfills when we could be repurposing the food and getting it to the people who need it?”

Kara Weiland, JLB Second Servings Chair

Since getting started in June of 2017, JLB Second Servings has experienced an extremely positive response from the Birmingham community.  They have a team of 10 volunteers who are ready to pick up and deliver donated food at any time. They have developed great partnerships, including one with Hattie B’s which provides them with food weekly. The team has also received donations consistent donations from Zoe’s Kitchen, Regions and Protective Life. 

How Much Food Has Been Saved? 

Kara Weiland stands next to one of the JLB Second Servings refrigerators. Photo via Bham Now

Their goal for donations in their first year (June 2017 – May 2018) was 2,000 lbs. of food, which they not only met, but exceeded. Their current total for this year so far (June 2018 – November 2018) has already passed that figure with a current total of 2,229 lbs. of food donated. They are looking to double their total from last year, and they are well on their way. 

The Junior League of Birmingham and the  JLB Second Servings Committee is always looking to collaborate. They are flexible and able to work with any type of event, person, restaurant or business that is looking to cut down on food waste. 

For more information, please visit https://www.jlbonline.com/secondservings/.

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