by Jim Ridley
First, the good news: The MetroCenter warehouse headquarters of Second Harvest Food Bank, one of Middle Tennessee's mainstays in times of crisis, made it through last weekend's flooding with its freezers intact. According to Second Harvest COO Matthew Bourlakas, items in the food bank's freezers would have been unusable if the temperature rose above zero. Even with the power out for two days starting Sunday, the temperature got within a single degree below zero — and the freezers held.
Now the bad news: The food bank's refrigerators and "cold dock" (where perishable items await refrigeration) were not so fortunate. According to Bourlakas, items such as meats, yogurt and other dairy products would have been safe as long as the temperature never rose above 32 degrees. Without electricity, though, the temperature rose to 45. As a result, Bourlakas says, the food bank lost approximately 10 percent of its holdings.
Making matters worse, the MetroCenter location is still hemmed in by floodwater. Trucks attempting to pass through the murky water have ruptured their radiators on unseen debris.
In advance of Saturday's letter-carriers drive — Second Harvest's biggest food drive of the year — Bourlakas says deliveries will be routed to the food bank's temporary location near the airport at 815 Hangar Lane. Second Harvest's major need at the moment, besides food, is money to cover the expense of re-routing all its donated food. Donations can be made here.
Bourlakas stresses that Saturday's letter-carrier food drive, by which residents can donate canned goods and non-perishable items just by bagging them and leaving them for their mailman, is a simple and extremely effective way for Middle Tennesseans to contribute to the relief effort. Major inventory needs include proteins such as canned meats and peanut butter, non-perishables, and water.
Asked the best way Nashvillians can help, Second Harvest director of operations Greg James says any type of food drive would be welcomed. He also directed people to the many drop-off stations located in local supermarkets.
"Hit the Kroger barrels," James says.