My Nonprofit Reviews
Review for Feeding America Southwest Virginia, Salem, VA, USA
There are two faces to Southwest Virginia Second Harvest Food Bank AKA Feeding America Southwest Virginia.
The well-constructed public facade is of a caring, well-organized "Christian-based" non-profit that exists "to eliminate hunger in Southwestern Virginia." This, of course, is the public face; the façade.
The lesser-known, well-hidden face is quite different.
It is this latter manifestation - the true face, if you will - that we address.
It is the organization that, for years, forced workers to work mandatory overtime, yet refused to pay overtime, per their own Employee Handbook, and, of course, in blatant violation of Federal Labor Law. They instead hid behind the veil of the pretense of "flex time": the employee may - or may not - be given some time off weeks, months, even a year after the accumulated overtime. Not "time-and-one-half" paid overtime within their payroll period, but a fraction of the time worked over the 80 hour pay period. We the US Department of Labor to examine payroll for the period 2005 to 2010 alone, the "non-profit" would be forced to pay former and current employees considerable sums in back overtime pay.
Bear in mind that when operating as Second Harvest Food Bank, the organization and its then-chairman, Pamela Irvine, were investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The local news reported that after a lengthy investigation, the US Attorney "declined prosecution" - a far cry from exoneration.
Katrina was a PR boon for Mr Irvine, who gave press conferences before a wall of pallets of bottled water donated for the victims of Katrina. Yet, despite two employees volunteering their time to deliver tractor-trailer loads of said water, not a drop reached Louisiana. The water - some 114 PALLETS - remained stored in the Salem, VA warehouse until the need had long passed. Yet, they had served their purpose well in newspaper and television press conferences.
Clothing and blankets donated to America's Second Harvest, Southwestern Virginia were simply tossed into a large dumpster.
Roanoke College's annual Potato Drop routinely yielded a full tractor-trailer load of double stacked bins of donated sweet potatoes; 90% of which were allowed to rot in the warehouse, before the Director of Operations had the leaking, moldy bins transferred to box truck in the lot, to be hidden from view of USDA inspectors.
A substantial percentage of this Food Bank's donations have ended up in the local landfill.
Tons of venison donated by Hunters For The Hungry were disposed of annually. Food that was intended for hungry families ended up "in the dump."
Likewise, there is never a mention of other food pantries, churches, charities, and soup kitchens that have been deprived of even a fair share of contributions, due to the sheer greed of this massive corporation (whose battle cry has always been "Poundage! Poundage!"): Local bakeries that one contributed half a box-truck load a week to Second Harvest were convinced to donate their entire lots. End result? Other entities were deprived of bread; Second Harvest received MANY TIMES more bread that it could hope to distribute; an entire half of an enormous cooler (the half referred to being some 30 by 80 feet, four racks high) being overstocked on a weekly basis with many PALLETS of bred that ended up being donated to local hog farmers.
Second Harvest/Feeding America: eliminating hungry swine in Southwestern Virginia.
During a yearlong pay rate freeze due to the onset of a disastrous economy, employees were nonetheless treated to the uplifting news that Pamela Irvine had been promoted from Chairman to President and CEO, with a reported salary increase from $68,000 to $89,000 a year, a new vice-president was hired "so that Pam can devote more time to PR" at a reported salary of some $50,000 a year, and the Board of Directors were gifted with new BlackBerries.
Yeah. Rough economy. For some, at least.
A Class A driver with a excellent record was unfairly terminated after severe freeze/that conditions caused aged asphalt to depress under the tandem, causing a 3 foot by 4 foot pothole. Yet, said pothole was a veritable goldmine for another Feeding America "manager," who claimed $25,000 in damages (over twice the quoted figure to have the entire lot redone in structural concrete). Yet, more favored employees received not even reprimands for totaling vehicles in avoidable situations.
Not surprisingly, said driver was offered the equivalent of three-month's wages to sign an affidavit agreeing that the unjust termination was a "resignation," after undesirable facts began to emerge. Said driver refused.
While the Operations Manager and personnel director casually brushed reports of a manager's sexual harassment and perpetual racist comments aside, such apparently caught up with him when attention was brought to some activities and procedures at Feeding America. Said manager was forced to resign (managers are rarely terminated, despite the severity of the offenses), and the Operations Manager left immediately without notice.
In time, other violations of America's Second Harvest/Feeding America Southwestern Virginia shall be brought - at long last - to light.
I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...
If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...
Remove the current president and CEO. In routinely making the statement, "I know everything that goes on in this warehouse!" she quite simply admitted not merely complicity, but responsibility. Remove the greed to "Poundage!" and become merely one of many organizations to assist the hungry. Direct Hunters for the Hungry donations to other organizations better located and equipped to distribute tons of venison, rather than dispose of such donations. Compensate employees defrauded of overtime pay.
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Unlike small, local charities, Feeding America nee America's Second Harvest is a massive corporation. It has the funds and the clout to entice major contributors - both in terms of millions of pounds of donations, and millions of dollars. It can attract celebrities to give impassioned pleas on its behalf. It has the clout to have politicians and celebrities attend lavish black-tie fundraisers. But, as mentioned, there is the public façade, and the reality. I am reminded of the adage, "Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely." I would encourage private individuals and large corporations alike to avoid the massive "corporate charity" and turn their attention to the smaller hunger organizations throughout the United States. Millions of smaller entities deprived of even a small share of donations, as a result of the insatiable greed of Second Harvest/Feeding America.