CF of the Lowcountry | Creative Idea Solves a Pressing Problem


Creative Idea Solves a Pressing Problem

November 03, 2021
If necessity is the mother of invention, Lili Coleman, former executive director of Second Helpings (a food rescue agency), wins a prize for a creative solution that solved a critical problem her agency encountered during the pandemic.

With the demand for rescued food surging, but legions of her volunteers staying home for safety reasons, Coleman needed to find a way to ensure food pantries across Beaufort, Hampton and Jasper Counties received her deliveries.

Alan Wolf, president of SERG Group, faced a different problem. The area’s largest employer was forced to close all 15 of their SERG Group restaurants on March 18, 2020. They were able to pay all 1,200 employees for a week and, then, a second week. After that, almost all employees were furloughed.

“I knew the restaurant workers were hurting,” says Coleman. “They were going to be the people standing in line at food pantries. We wanted to find a way to help them, while filling our need for volunteers.”

Coleman reached out to Wolf. Could your workers fill in for our volunteers? The answer was yes. “We had healthy young workers,” Wolf says, “and they had the time to dedicate.”

Coleman then reached out to the Community Foundation, requesting a grant of $20,000 from our Lowcountry Community COVID-19 Response Fund to pay the SERG workers who filled in for the missing volunteers. Our COVID grants committee appreciated the inventive solution and awarded the full amount.

With the help of the SERG workers and a grant from the Community Foundation, Coleman says Second Helpings was able to provide 45,000 meals each week. With food insecurity being the most dire pandemic-related issue in the Lowcountry, this creative collaboration ensured local families didn’t go hungry.

SERG employees Mac DeRose and Sarah Hughes help Second Helpings driver Mark Williams load a truck with rescued food as SERG president Alan Wolf and Second Helpings executive director Lili Coleman look on. (Photo: Arno Dimmling)

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