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INSIDE LOOK: Second Harvest of the Big Bend prepares for 2024 hurricane season

Second Harvest of the Big Bend serves 16 counties.
Posted at 6:00 PM, May 30, 2024
  • Second Harvest of the Big Bend is preparing to serve neighbors during the 2024 hurricane season.
  • Second Harvest distributed 1.3 million pounds of food in response to Hurricane Idalia in 2023.
  • Watch the video above for an inside look at their operation and how they're working to help neighbors should a storm come to the Big Bend.


Second Harvest of the Big Bend serves 16 counties. As we saw with Hurricane Idalia in 2023, neighborhoods across those counties can suffer in the days and weeks after a storm.

I’m Terry Gilliam your Southwest Tallahassee neighborhood reporter. I’m getting an inside look at how second harvest is preparing now to meet future needs. 

"I guess the first one I experienced was Kate, way back in the early 80's and there's been several since then," said Matt Pellegrino. He is a volunteer at Second Harvest of the Big Bend. "We were without power for 7 or 8 days the first time." 

Pellegrino recalls his first hurricane years ago. That power outage led to a loss and lack of food. 

It's an experience many neighbors went through in 2023 with Hurricane Idalia. ABC 27 was there as volunteers filled hundreds of cars in places like Perry and Monticello.


500 Perry families feed after ABC 27 teams up with Second Harvest

Pellegrino works to make sure Second Harvest is ready should another storm head our way. He told me, "what we do is we separate various meats into categories; poultry, beef, whatever have you… then we'll box it up later and that'll be distributed to our partners for distribution to the public." 

They're also packing canned goods and other non-perishables. Second Harvest tells me they distributed 1.3 million pounds of food in response to Hurricane Idalia.

Second Harvest of the Big Bend CEO, Monique Ellsworth, says they want to do the same thing this year. "Hurricane prep typically begins at the conclusion of the previous hurricane season," Ellsworth explained. 

The seven counties on your screen that Second Harvest serves were impacted by Hurricane Idalia. 

"What we're doing right now is we're taking a look at everything that we did last year; lessons learned, and making sure that things like our call tree on how we're going to manage a crisis internally is updated," Ellsworth added. 

Staff at Second Harvest looks different due to cuts to ensure funding for services across our neighborhoods. I asked Ellsworth if they're still confident in their response ahead of hurricane season. Ellsworth explained, "the Tallahassee community rises to the occasion, should there be a storm in this storm season, we're going to see an absolute outflow of support from our local community making sure neighbors aren't left behind." 

It's a mission she leads while dozens of volunteers like Pellegrino prepare for the worst and hope for the best. "As far as the community is concerned, what we do here will go a long way to alleviate any needs that come up during such a storm,” Pellegrino concluded. 

Second Harvest welcomes volunteers, especially during storm recovery. Click here to get involved.