Low-income Minnesotans miss 125 million meals each year, and one out of eight children in Minnesota is at risk of going hungry. For Second Harvest Heartland, those numbers are unacceptable. Each year, the fourth-largest food distributor in the Feeding America national network of food banks serves more than 960 food shelves, soup kitchens, shelters, and programs in Minnesota and western Wisconsin.
“As the economy has taken a downward trend, we’ve been getting busier and busier as the need arises,” said Gary Krivanek, transportation manager for Second Harvest Heartland. It distributed nearly 50 million pounds of food during its most recent fiscal year (ending September 30) from its main warehouse in Maplewood and a small satellite warehouse in Minneapolis. That’s an increase of 21% over the prior year, and a 71% increase since Second Harvest Greater Minneapolis and Second Harvest St Paul merged in 2001 to create Second Harvest Heartland. Krivanek said Second Harvest anticipates collecting 55 million pounds of food through September 2010—another 10% increase.
To collect and distribute food, Second Harvest relies on two new Kenworth T370s and a T800 in its fleet of 16 trucks, drivers, and hundreds of volunteers who sort and pack food at the organization’s warehouses. Krivanek said he began looking for new trucks in 2008 to increase the fleet’s capacity to handle increases in the amount of food collected and distributed.
The agency’s two T370s are equipped with 260-hp Paccar PX-8 engines with 800 ft-lb of torque, tandem drive axles, six-speed Allison automatic transmissions, and 28-foot boxes with heavy-duty liftgates to handle up to 12 large pallets of food when fully loaded. Its T800 is equipped with a 370-hp Cummins ISM engine and a 10-speed Eaton Fuller manual transmission.
Second Harvest Heartland drivers usually leave the warehouses in the morning with full loads of food for delivery to food banks, soup kitchens, and shelters throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin. On the return trip, drivers pick up food donations from food manufacturers, retailers, and local farmers. Refrigeration units help preserve the freshness of fruit and other perishable produce in transit to the agency’s two warehouses for sorting.