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Food bank buys big north San Jose site for future HQ, food handling

SAN JOSE — A high-profile South Bay food bank has bought a prime site in north San Jose’s Alviso district where the charitable agency aims to consolidate its head offices along with food handling operations.

Second Harvest of Silicon Valley has completed the purchase of a site at 4553 N. First St. in San Jose, the organization said.

An improved way for Second Harvest to operate has become crucial because coronavirus-linked economic woes have pressured more people to rely on the food agency’s services.

“While we have managed to meet the incredible need of our community through temporary operational shifts, the inefficiencies of working across three locations in San Jose are considerable and costly,” said Leslie Bacho, chief executive officer with Second Harvest of Silicon Valley.

Second Harvest of Silicon Valley headquarters, distribution, and warehouse complex at 4553 and 4653 N. First St. in north San Jose, entry area, concept. 

The food bank now provides free groceries to more than 400,000 people a month. That’s a 60% jump from the numbers the agency served before the coronavirus outbreak.

“During the pandemic, Second Harvest became a lifeline to thousands,” San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said. “We are grateful for their continued support and are excited to see their expansion in Alviso.”

South Bay Development, a long-time local real estate firm, sold the 10.5 acres of land to Second Harvest of Silicon Valley.

A warehouse, distribution and office building totaling 249,200 square feet is slated to be constructed on the site, according to city planning documents.

“We have been working with inadequate infrastructure to address the high level of need such as insufficient freezer, refrigeration and volunteer space,” Bacho said.

At present, Second Harvest’s food-handling operations are scattered among three San Jose locations.

“Having a permanent location with increased capacity also allows us to flex when we are required to respond to future emergencies and disasters,” Bacho said.

Once the modern new building is open, most of Second Harvest’s food handling will be conducted at the Alviso site.

Plus, the building will provide expanded space for food handling and storage, a larger volunteer center and new offices.

“Second Harvest has a long-standing history of partnership and service in the communities they serve, including Alviso where they have worked with local organizations to distribute nutritious food to our residents for over three decades,” City Councilmember David Cohen said.

One of the largest food banks in the nation, Second Harvest works with over 300 partners at 900 sites in the region to distribute more than 12 million pounds of groceries every month to families in Santa Clara County and San Mateo County.

Most of the food provided is fresh produce, protein and dairy, according to Second Harvest.

“For 47 years, Second Harvest has been the hub of the charitable food system in Silicon Valley,” Mayor Liccardo said. “Their work is vital in keeping food on our neighbor’s tables.”

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