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50 Faces of CEAP: Allison O'Toole

Do you know the difference between a food shelf and a food bank? CEAP, a food shelf, shares food directly with our neighbors through partnerships with food banks like Second Harvest Heartland. Second Harvest Heartland sources, repacks, and distributes food with a mission to end hunger together. “We take the ‘together’ part of our mission very seriously,” says Allison O’Toole, CEO of Second Harvest Heartland. “This is shared work that CEAP is on the frontline of. If we aren’t connected with the need for food in the community, food will just sit there.” 

Second Harvest Heartland is one of the largest food banks in the country, and CEAP is one of their biggest partners. They focus on providing fresh produce, staple items, and items in high need. They also operate an agency grant program focused on innovation, which CEAP has been a recent recipient of. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Second Harvest has worked with CEAP to get over 700,000 meals into our community. Allison says that this partnership is so powerful because CEAP is trusted by our community and has really good connections, which is key to breaking down barriers to healthy food. 

“We are living in the hungriest summer in recent history, which really highlights the importance of strong organizations like CEAP and our partnership,” says Allison. “In times like this, it feels like there’s not a lot you can control, but what you can control is how you can show up for one another and the community, and CEAP has done that in spades in really hard times. CEAP didn’t miss a beat in probably the toughest times we’ll experience in our lifetimes.”