Allison Czapp joined Second Harvest as our new Associate Executive Director in March, 2022. Previously, she was in grant-writing at our parent organization, Community Action Lehigh Valley, and was Director of Buy Fresh Buy Local – Greater Lehigh Valley. The organization worked with farmers, farmers markets, and other producers to promote and build the local food economy. During her time there, she launched programs like Fresh Food Bucks, which allowed people using SNAP (formerly food stamps) to double their dollars for fresh, local produce.
Allison studied cultural anthropology and food systems at New Mexico State University. She is excited to apply her academic knowledge to real-world situations that help promote something she feels passionately about!
Check out this Q & A with Allison!
What made you interested in the position?
I have always been interested in food systems – how people build community through food; how food relates to health, wellness and cultural identity; and how systemic inequalities allow food insecurity to persist despite abundant resources. While I have a lot of experience with local food, coming to Second Harvest gives me a tremendous opportunity to use my knowledge and skills in a different sector of the food system. On a personal level, it is extremely important to me that I actively work to impact our community in positive and meaningful ways. I cannot think of a better use of my professional time than helping people gain access to basic life necessities.
What do you hope to achieve in this position?
So many things! I’m looking forward to continuing the excellent work of the previous director, Katarah Jordan, and moving fresh food and food justice initiatives forward. I am also really excited to work with The Seed Farm to better integrate that program into food bank activities. My ultimate goal is to ensure SHFB remains a strong and resilient organization that can pivot in times of crisis (as with the pandemic) and support the needs of the community no matter what challenges we face. This can only be achieved by fostering a collaborative environment that also supports the needs of our hard-working staff, pantry directors, advisory board, volunteers, donors and other organizations working to end hunger and injustice.
What’s something you wish everyone knew about food insecurity?
Food insecurity is more than just not having enough food or getting enough calories – it also relates to the quality and nutritional value of food available to people. I think sometimes people view hunger and food insecurity only as a matter of getting people fed; but people need to be fed well in order to thrive. Also, I think we have all seen over the last couple of years how quickly a person’s economic situation can change and how fragile supply chains are. Everyone should know that organizations like SHFB exist in part because life is unpredictable and any one of us might need that safety net in place.
What does your job entail?
As Associate Executive Director, I will be overseeing the whole operation and I am responsible for ensuring nutritious food is getting to people who need it. Second Harvest is a big program, providing food to people in six counties through several different food distribution programs, while also providing nutritional education and outreach services. The Seed Farm also falls under the food bank program, so I will be working with the staff there to ensure new farmers are supported to create viable careers. I will also be part of the broader Community Action Lehigh Valley leadership team to help all agency programs connect and work together. Obviously, I have A LOT to learn in the coming months, but the team is so dedicated and knowledgeable — I am very much looking forward to learning from them!
What’s one thing you wish people knew about you?
I absolutely love terrible jokes and puns. The more they make you roll your eyes, the better they are!!