Service Retrospective with Former Board Member Myron Smith

Tell us about the genesis of your involvement in SHA and what initially inspired this work.

As a member of Temple Sinai Atlanta, our family knew about Second Helpings Atlanta (SHA) which was started as a Social Action program at Temple Sinai Atlanta in September 2004. I began volunteering for SHA in December 2005 after I had retired from full time work. Initially, I picked up food donations from St. Martin’s Episcopal School every Friday afternoon during the school year and delivered the donations to the Community Assistance Center in Sandy Springs. In terms of inspiration, I wouldn’t say I was initially inspired by one specific event to volunteer with SHA. I wanted to test the waters to see what would be involved and to see what satisfaction I got from this type of volunteer activity. 

I continued to be involved as a regular weekly volunteer driver for SHA and was asked in March 2009 by Guenther Hecht, one of the original founders of SHA, to be the Food Donor Coordinator for SHA. I accepted this responsibility. At that time, a lot of the donations that SHA received from food donors were bakery items. I started doing research on other food rescue organizations to learn best practices. I also read local newspapers and learned about other non profits that were involved in the Zero Waste movement.

My research helped me learn that a federal act, The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act,, was signed into law on October 1, 1996 by President Bill Clinton. I developed a number of documents that I provided to existing food donors and potential new food donors in order to expand the types of food donations that companies would make to food rescue organizations such as SHA.

With each success at expanding the types of food donations and acquiring new donors, my desire to do more for SHA and those nonprofits that helped the food insecure increased. In addition to managing the Food Donor Coordinator position, I served on the board of SHA for many years and helped in the process of SHA becoming a 501(c)3 non profit. I also served on the board of the Community Assistance Center (CAC) for four years. CAC was and still is SHA largest partner agency recipient of SHA food donations.

Needless to say, I am now in my seventeenth year of volunteering with SHA and still feel as passionate as ever about SHA.

Share a memory from the early years of Second Helpings that still resonates with you today.

One distinct thing I remember happened after I made a food donation delivery to Gateway Center in downtown Atlanta. While driving home from Gateway Center, I drove past the Georgia State Capitol and saw a person looking through one of the garbage/trash collection containers for food. I think it was at that time that I realized how even a few pounds of food that may be discarded by a company could help feed at least a few people.

Describe one way in which Second Helpings has changed to better meet the needs of both volunteers and partner agencies. 

The use of technology has had a significant impact on the volunteer experience. The SHA Mobile App provides a volunteer with all the information a volunteer needs to successfully handle a food donation pick up and delivery as well as reporting their completed pounds. In addition, the improved levels of communication between the SHA staff and volunteers helps when dealing with the challenges of handling food donation pickups and deliveries.

The fact that SHA has full-time staff versus volunteers handling the partner agency relationships has facilitated the ability to handle the needs of additional partner agencies.

How would you describe SHA’s impact between 2004 and now?

SHA’s impact can be measured by the quality and types of food that are donated by our food donors, the relationships that SHA has developed with food donors, partner agencies, the Atlanta Community Food Bank and projects that have developed over the years to meet the ever increasing needs of the food insecure in metro Atlanta. The current Meals with Meaning program is an excellent example of how SHA has developed relationships with both corporations and government entities to help those in need. The partnerships with Atlanta Major Sports (such as Mercedes Benz Stadium and Truist Park) venues are another example.

In your own words, tell us about the future of SHA. Where will we be in 10 years? 20 years?

SHA will continue to evolve to meet the current and future needs of the organizations that help feed those who are food insecure. The recent addition of SHA’s first official warehouse/cold storage space and office space in the 970 Jefferson building is a huge plus for SHA. I hope that in less than 10 years there will be less food insecurity than we have today.