Our History

Second Harvest began working with local hunger-relief agencies in 1986. Since our doors opened we have helped provide over 200 million meals to those facing hunger. Here’s how we’ve grown over the years:

Image of first Second Harvest location.


  • 1986 Doors of Southern Wisconsin Regional Foodbank, Inc. opened March 17
  • 1986 75 member agencies
  • 1986 Our first refrigerated truck is donated by Oscar Mayer
  • 1988 We become a United Way participating agency
NBC15 Anchor and NBC15 Share Your Holidays creator Mike McKinney holding a bag of groceries.


  • 1994 Our name changed to Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin
  • 1995 1.5 million pounds of food is distributed to over 150 member agencies
  • 1996 Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin begins operations at the new warehouse at our current location, 2802 Dairy Drive in Madison
  • 1996 In partnership with News Anchor Mike McKinney, the first NBC15 Share Your Holidays campaign takes place
  • 1999 Second Harvest launches our first Kid’s Cafe
Child sitting at a table.


  • 2004 Our first Mobile Pantry is held at Lincoln School in Madison
  • 2005 The BackPack Program is started in the Evansville School District in partnership with the Community Action Aware program
  • 2007 Warehouse addition completed
  • 2009 FoodShare Outreach launches
Image of warehouse construction


  • 2012 Field to Foodbank launches
  • 2014 HungerCare & School Pantry Program launches
  • 2016 Diabetes wellness program launches
  • 2017 Second expansion of warehouse
Second Harvest staff person directing traffic at a food distribution site.


  • 2020 The Food 4 Thought Initiative and other MMSD school pantries merge with Second Harvest, nearly doubling our number of school pantries
  • 2020 COVID pandemic response requires significant operational changes