An idea that began 10 years ago in one North Carolina beach town keeps growing by the pound.
Bill Spier, a Charlotte retiree with a summer home in Holden Beach, started A Second Helping as a way to collect the leftover food from departing vacationers and donate it to local food banks and soup kitchens.
He hit a milestone of 100,000 pounds of food collected in 2013 and is now seeing similar programs expand to other communities.
A Second Helping-Emerald Isle recently announced the June 14 debut of its program and June 21 is the start of Friends Feeding Friends on Topsail Island.
“That has been a goal of ours; to not only do this in Holden Beach but to see it spread to other vacation spots. It’s encouraging to see programs starting in Emerald Isle and on Topsail,” Spier said.
Spier said he knows of a South Carolina town that modeled a project after A Second Helping a few years ago and the ones on Bogue Banks and Topsail Islands are the latest. There may be other similar program out there; he hopes so.
“It’s something that can be done in any resort area,” he said.
Bryant Mende felt the same way after hearing about the Holden Beach project.
“We’re excited about the project and to be a part of something that seems to be a growing concept,” said Mende, an organizer for the F3 project, an extension of an existing food ministry at Emma Anderson Memorial Chapel in Topsail Beach.
Mende said they started with the Friends Feeding Friends name but also drew inspiration from the project started by Spier and are considering a change to the A Second Helping name.
“We’re considering changing the name to create a synergy with the other organizations,” Mende said.
What is important this summer, he said, is getting started.
On Topsail Island, volunteers with the F3 project will be collecting food items each Saturday morning from the parking lot of Max’s Pizza near the swing bridge at Surf City. Food donations will be accepted from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Saturdays from June 21 through the Labor Day weekend.
Mende said the Surf City location is central and near the bridge that is the primary access on and off the island.
The group hopes to add a second location along the causeway at North Topsail Beach next summer.
The Emerald Isle group has started with two collection sites: one beside Bert’s Surf Shop at the corner of N.C. 58 and Islander Driver and another at Holiday Trav-L-Park at Coast Guard Road and Reed Drive. They are open Saturdays from 7 a.m. to noon.
The idea for each of the projects is to have visitors who are vacationing at the beach donate their leftover food items before they head home. It keeps vacationers from having to carry it home or waste food by throwing it away; it also helps others in need.
Food collected is donated to local food pantries.
The F3 project will donate what it collects to the Share the Table food pantry in Surf City, which is supported by Faith Harbor United Methodist Church in Surf City. The primary beneficiary of food items donated by the Emerald Isle project go to the food pantry operated by White Oak Ecumenical Outreach Ministries based in Swansboro.
Mende said they will have youth with the Emma Anderson Memorial Chapel assisting at the drop-off site and will be making it as convenient as possible for vacationers to drive through with donations so they don’t have to stop.
Organizers from both the Emerald Isle and F3 projects credit Spier for inspiring their efforts. In each case, they read a newspaper article last fall about the Holden Beach project and saw a good idea they felt could be duplicated in their own communities.
“When I read the article it really resonated with me. I saw it as a great way to utilize food that would otherwise be thrown away and a way to put it to a good cause,” he said.
Mende said he contacted Spier after reading the article and then called a friend, Julia Sherron, who had read the same article.
“We both said the same thing, ‘We should do something,’” he said.
Now, Bryant and his wife, Lisa, and Julia and her husband, Frank, partner to operate the project.
For more information about the area projects go to friendsfeedingfriends-topsail.org or asecondhelping-emeraldisle.com.