A Letter From Debra

Five years ago, I made two of the best decisions of my life. One, I retired. And then two, I accepted the position of Executive Director of Second Harvest. Which meant I had to un-retire.

And now, five years later, it’s once again time to retire! If that comes as a surprise, I assure you that my decision was not cavalier. But I leave knowing that those five years were enormously well invested, and extremely proud that Second Harvest has grown to become a global leader in the food recovery arena. This growth has allowed us to feed more vulnerable people. You made our growth possible, and I am so grateful for you.

Let me share with you some of what I learned, and some of what we have achieved over the last five years.

It started with a vision. No Waste. No Hunger. Our Second Harvest team defined and then embraced that vision with passion and commitment. I had the opportunity to add talented, dedicated people who wanted to set even higher goals. Together, we developed new and innovative ways of building on our vision. Exciting and transformational partnerships. With farmers, food producers and manufacturers, academics, and policy makers. We developed efficiencies and cost savings, learned about the importance of engaging in the landscape of food policy and understanding our environmental impact. And we ran our operations caringly, making ever-better decisions. Above all, we structured our efforts with love – love for what we do, love for the teams with whom we work, love for the people we feed.

And our love and labours were not lost, as our patient, dearest and most generous donors became even dearer. Even more generous. As did our more than 1991 volunteers who routinely step in with their own incalculable generosity. How much did they help feed people? Today, we deliver over 10.7 million pounds of wonderful and available food to people experiencing food insecurity, enabling us to feed over 30,000 meals every day, an achievement far beyond what was ever thought possible when Second Harvest first began over thirty years ago.

It hasn’t always been easy. Circumstances conspire to disrupt even the most carefully intended plans. But we bear witness to a reality most people don’t really want to know about, and bear responsibility for doing something meaningful about it. We are present to an ever-increasing problem and it is our responsibility to serve the immediate need – even more importantly it is our responsibility to everyone we serve, that we remain sustainable. But I remind myself that kindness, courage, decency and dignity are what we represent and if we can remain loyal to those qualities, we can continue to remain true to our vision and in doing so, shape an exciting future.

Five years from now, I envision Second Harvest stronger than ever – with an extraordinary team that rescues, delivers, teaches, cooks, partners, trains, builds relationships, strengthens communities ALL TO FEED PEOPLE- everything that we have dreamed that Second Harvest should sustainably do. I’ve learned that I have tremendous love for all that all of you do, to just say thank you and good bye. So perhaps, as I ease into my next five years, I will end with gratitude and humility for your passion and dedication to what we do.