Hunger groups tie knot – Donations could double

The urge to merge that is driving American commercial enterprise has prompted one of the biggest consolidations between U.S. nonprofit groups, The Wall Street Journal reports.

America’s Second Harvest, the Chicago-based network of food banks, announced Tuesday it was merging with Foodchain, based in Kansas City, Mo.

Both nonprofit groups faced serious threats, the Journal says.

Food supplies for Second Harvest were falling steadily, with donors such as Pizza Hut and the Marriott hotel chain offering more prepared meals and fewer canned goods.

Yet Second Harvest wasn’t equipped to hand out cooked meals, although hungry people prefer hot meals to ingredients they must mix themselves, the Journal says.

Foodchain, on the other hand, focuses on hot food, but lacks the staff to handle growing demand for its services.

And donors were questioning why both groups were needed.

Foodchain members saw Second Harvest as too big and bureaucratic, while Second Harvest officials saw Foodchain as “pesky, poorly funded upstart,” the Journal says.

Yet the two groups came to see each other as perfect mates.

Twenty-year-old Second Harvest has an operating budget of $14 million a year and supplies shelf-stable goods to 200 food banks, distributing one billion pounds of food to 26 million people last year.

Eight-year-old Foodchain has a $900,000 operating budget and operates 70 food programs throughout the U.S.

Second Harvest received $464 million in donations last year, mainly in the form of food, while Foodchain received about $350 million in donated.

Deborah Leff, Second Harvest’s executive director, says the merger, the fruit of five years of talks, will result in a doubling of donations within five years.



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