Got leftover food from your catered party? Let Second Servings donate it back to the community!

Read Time 3 Minutes


Every catered party you attend this season gives you an opportunity to give back. Photo via Ashley Mac’s.

Do you really need that huge serving of chicken kabobs your coworker insisted you take home from the office holiday party?  This season, instead of letting leftovers live rent free in the back of your fridge, consider donating them to Second Servings, a Junior League of Birmingham initiative.

Second Servings? Like going back for seconds?

Second Servings not only prevents hunger, but also from caterers watching their food thrown in the trash. Photo via JLB

Sort of, except this time that second helping goes to someone who actually needs it. The JLB is donating professionally prepared food from work events or personal parties to those who face food insecurity. 

How many parties have you hosted where you were in danger of not having enough food? How many times have you watched perfectly prepared food dumped in the trash at the end of the night?

The JLB conducts this program in partnership with local area restaurants and caterers to rescue and deliver food to local nonprofits. These are meals that would normally end up uneaten. Last year the JLB saved over 5,000 lbs of food from the trash—that’s equivalent to roughly 4,000 people fed!

This sounds like a pretty easy way to serve my community, how can I help?

This team of rockstar volunteers will personally pick up any prepared food you have to donate. Photo via JLB

This is an easy option if the next catered party you attend has enough food to feed 200, and there’s only 40 people there. Consider sending the food to someone who would really benefit from it through these steps:

  1. Fill out a brief online form
  2. Send an email to Second Servings

Yep—it’s really as simple as that to make a real difference this holiday season.

JLB schedules the pickup and delivers it themselves to the shelters within 24 hours. All of the volunteers go through food handler training and the health department.

Here are the musts for recovery:

  • Prepared in a commercial kitchen (received a health inspection)
  • More than 15 servings
  • Within 10-15 mile radius of Birmingham
  • Prepared within 24 hours of recovery
  • Packaged in disposable containers and ready for pick-up

“We try to make it as easy as possible on the donor as can be. It’s not a chore, it’s easy and you get a tax write off.”

Jennifer McGee, Chair for Second Servings placement

Who receives the donations?

Organizations around Birmingham donate food from their catered events, but it you don’t have to be part of a large business to participate. Photo via Bham Now

Currently, Second Servings is partnered with Project Hope, a day shelter for homeless teens, to provide food for its at risk youth. In addition, they also work with Youth Towers—an organization aimed at preventing homelessness among young adults.

“For the teens, it’s knowing that there’s people out there who care. When the young adults are getting this meal it makes them feel like somebody is thinking of them.”

Jennifer McGee, Chair for Second Servings

Donating something as simple as a yogurt parfait may seem insignificant, but the impact you’re making is so much bigger. Even if you don’t know their name, these actions make a positive difference for individuals who receive the food.

What is food insecurity?

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

Think about studying for an exam or balancing work with family life and school. Just the thought of it stresses you out, right? Now picture, in the midst of that, not knowing if you’re going to eat tonight.

Food insecurity means lacking the financial resources to feed your household for a healthy, sustainable lifestyle. It doesn’t only affect those living in certain neighborhoods or areas, and chances are you know someone dealing with it.

“It’s hard to get to the next step if you’re worried about where your next meal is coming from. It’s easier to educate yourself when you’re not worried about being hungry.”

Jennifer McGee, Chair for Second Servings

Over 19% of people in Alabama are food insecure—that’s 919,670 people! It really makes you look at all those leftovers a little differently. 

Don’t miss out on all the great ways the JLB is helping out Birmingham! Learn more on Instagram: @jlbirmingham, Facebook: @JuniorLeagueBirmingham, and Twitter: @JLBirmingham.

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