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Natural Awakenings Westchester / Putnam / Dutchess New York

Second Chance Foods Rescues Healthy Food to Help Hungry People in Hudson Valley

Mar 31, 2022 10:21AM ● By Allison Gorman

Martha Elder, executive director and Jean McGee, co-founder of Second Chance Foods

According to the US Department of Agriculture, 38 million Americans, including 12 million children, are food insecure—that is, they lack consistent access to enough food to lead active, healthy lives. And while there’s plenty of food available for those in need, 40 percent of the food in the United States gets thrown away.

Second Chance Foods, based in Carmel, redirects good food from Hudson Valley’s landfills to people in need.

“We believe that access to nourishing food is a human right, and we actively connect healthy food to hungry people,” says Martha Elder, executive director of Second Chance Foods.

Their process is simple. With the help of a network of volunteers, they collect a wide variety of food from grocery stores like Trader Joe’s and local farms like Hilltop Hanover Farm, Glynwood Farm and even their own pantry garden, and then distribute it to those in need—either as is, or in the form of meals prepared in the Second Chance Foods Kitchen.

“Over 6,500 pounds of food is picked up and delivered to our kitchen throughout an average week,” Elder says. “Our amazing volunteers unpack and sort items based on freshness, quantities and potential use. Many things are still in peak condition when we receive them. So, to provide our recipients with variety and choice of what and how to feed themselves, we pass along items like eggs, yogurt, steak, salmon, fresh fruits and veggies, bread and many other pantry staples, exactly how we received them.”

To help people in immediate crisis and extend the life of fresh produce, Second Chance Foods’ commercial kitchen also creates full meals that are both nourishing and tasty. 

“Because fresh foods are vital to emotional and physical health, we focus on providing nutrient-dense foods to those in need of meal assistance,” Elder says. “Our kitchen creates meals like baked salmon over vegetable couscous, black bean burgers and fresh guacamole, and a variety of incredible soups often made with homemade bone broth.”

Asked where their food goes, Elder answers, “Everywhere. We work closely with multiple food pantries and community organizations. We’ve even created a weekly box program to distribute the food we collect, harvest and cook to those who need it in our community.”

Over the last six years, Second Chance Foods has connected more than 850,000 pounds of usable, nutritious food to people in need, she says. In 2021 alone, aided by 6,800 volunteer hours, they rescued 266,080 pounds of healthy groceries and created more than 47,000 meals.

For more info, or to donate or volunteer, visit