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VIDEO: Second Harvest of the Big Bend lays off 20 workers; what that means for service going forward

The organization serves 16 counties in the Big Bend
Posted at 2:39 PM, Mar 22, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-22 16:28:10-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Second Harvest of the Big Bend confirmed they laid off 20 members of their team Friday.

ABC 27's Kendall Brandt said that's about half of their staff. Brandt spoke with SHBB CEO, Monique Ellsworth, Friday afternoon. Ellsworth said the choice was made due to funding. Ellsworth added funding issues are being experienced at food banks across the nation. The food bank had been relying on federal and state grants to fund their efforts. Ellsworth said much of the funding that they got during the COVID-19 pandemic has gone away.

Ellsworth told Brandt the layoffs will not impact service levels here in the Big Bend.

"We won't miss a beat, we are just going to make sure the team that we have feel supported and loved and that our community knows this will not distract our effort to meet community need," Ellsworth said.

She said grant programs are focusing their priorities elsewhere and adding restrictions on what they can use their money for. The CEO said their own cuts were made to ensure that they still have the capacity to support the community. Ellsworth said they are planning to use $3 million awarded to them by the federal government to support the future of the food bank.

According to the SHBB website, the organization provides healthy food for neighbors facing hunger and food insecurity throughout their 16-county Big Bend service area. Their site also says their facility, "acts as a storage and distribution depot for over 149 smaller frontline agency partners, including emergency food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, children's homes, homes for the mentally disabled, and domestic violence shelters."

Earlier this year, ABC 27 partnered with SHBB to help feed 500 families in Perry, Fla. six months after Hurricane Idalia devastated the community.


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

You can learn more about Second Harvest here.