Nothing Should Be Seen As Waste: Reclaiming food… and flowers?

by | Feb 20, 2018 | Uncategorized | 13 comments

This blog entry was written by Ashley Bonner, Agency Relations Coordinator for Second Harvest Food Bank. We asked her what her favorite donation is at Second Harvest, and she surprised us with her answer. Read on to learn more!

When you hear our name–Second Harvest Food Bank– you rightly think of food and the issue of hunger within our community. Food: that’s who we are, that’s what we do.

Second Harvest works with our partner programs to address–and hopefully erase– hunger in our communities. At every turn we want to increase our partner program’s access to fresh and healthy food to bring back to their communities—in fact, through our network, we move 37 tons of food every day. With that being said, we have come across the need for a product lately that doesn’t feed the tummy, but instead the soul: flowers.

Because Second Harvest works with nearly all the large regional grocery retailers to reclaim the unsold food they are moving off their shelves, sometimes we also get leftover flowers from their floral departments. And we don’t say no.

Oprah once said that when she was poor, it was a luxury for her to purchase flowers from her local grocery store. When she became wealthy; she had fresh flowers delivered to her home every day. Flowers were both aesthetically pleasing and inspirational for her. They gave her hope.

It’s no secret that flowers can boost morale and improve mood. They stimulate the senses in every way. A bunch of sunny-faced blooms brighten a room and the spirits of anyone catching a drift of their scent. Flowers also affect us on a biological level. As botanicals, they possess chemicals that produce positive effects on the body ranging from anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties to cardiovascular benefits.

Sadly, however, flowers are for lots of people a luxury and something that they must do without. That is why we at Second Harvest feel that the gesture of gifting our clients with flowers can help them as they maneuver through different stages of their lives.

Imagine how a small bouquet of roses could boost a person’s self-esteem on a day when they had to stand in line for free food.

In Alleghany County, the Second Harvest partner agencies network blesses the individuals they serve with flowers for birthdays, new job opportunities, or as a simple “just because.” One of our Forsyth County partners, Fraternity Church of the Brethren, runs a school pantry. Here, they have utilized the reclaimed flowers to say thank you to all the teachers that dedicate their personal time to help the pantry run daily. In a small way these gifts of flowers bring light to these individuals’ lives at a time where they are having to make daily sacrifices in order to stay afloat.

These gestures exemplify our partner agencies’ dedication to utilizing all things that are donated to our food bank and to allow no waste to occur. Nothing at Second Harvest is viewed as unnecessary or not needed. When you have an individual or families that can’t afford to feed themselves all things must be looked at as ways to enrich their daily reality. Nothing should be seen as waste.

Imagine an 18 year old girl—she is the youngest of 7 whose mother just passed away and whose father is very ill. She’s now responsible for the well-being of her and her siblings. Accompanied by her boyfriend, she drives to their local food pantry for help. She needs to acquire food for her family and was told this organization could provide that. She’s greeted by older women who give her food that will be vital in the stability of her family as she figures out how to make ends meet.

That young 18 year old was my mom. Her boyfriend? That was my dad.

I sometimes imagine what it would have been like if on that day she would have been greeted with flowers as well as food. Those flowers would have become a symbol of hope for her, as she maneuvered through her new responsibilities, without her mom. The food from that pantry sustained her and her siblings nutritionally, but flowers might have helped to sustain her spiritually.

Today, my dad and I bring my mom flowers “just because.” We do it often. We know that it brings her a sense of peace that words can’t provide; a vote of confidence. To be able to grant the gift of flowers to those individuals accessing our pantries is something that we take much pride in!

We know that flowers are not as practical as food… but there is much that the families we serve need, including hope.

Learn more about food waste and how Second Harvest helps here.

Learn more about Second Harvest’s work with retail partners in our region here.


  1. William shelf

    That was a nice article Ashley I didn’t know you were with Second Harvest

  2. Joshua

    Awesome piece. Reading things like this opens your eyes to the simple things in life that do touch the soul that we tend to over look. For a food harvest bank to give out flowers I’m sure brings a smile to people who need, and who are looking for that ray of hope and sunshine. By reading this article I can tell that Ashley Bonner has the spirit of a flower and the people she serve and work for are lucky to such a bright spirit in their presence.

  3. Jonathan

    Congratulations Ashley aka Cuz that was a great motivational/ inspirational blog… and 37 tons that’s a lot of food y’all keep up the good work over there at 2nd Harvest 👍🏽

  4. Scott

    This is an amazing article, and one I feel needs to be shared with all agencies and people in general. So many things are seen as a luxury these days for the average person. As a 28 yr old male, who is an artist that spends most of his day at home, I also find flowers aesthetically and spiritually pleasing. So if i found myself in a situation where they were given to me as a gift, I honestly believe that would make my day, and help with my health on all levels! Mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

    P.s. I absolutely love the line “a bunch of sunny-faced blooms, help to brighten the room”

  5. Renee

    Flowers do awaking the spirit with it fragrance and colors.
    I love flowers myself, so I think this s a wonderful thing that you are doing for your community.
    May God continue to use you to brighten up someone’s day.

  6. Tanya

    This is beautiful, thank you for doing this for your community.

    • Alice

      Ashley, we ,at the Outreach Ministry ,get flowers from our partner,Food Lion.We take the flowers to the local nursing home and also to the senior complex. In June , we had enough to give to grandmothers of graduating high school seniors. It is rewarding to see the many smiles flowers bring to these persons. Some, who said they have never received flowers!

      • shfbnwncblog


        We love the work you do at the Outreach Ministry and are glad that you put flowers to use as well! Thank you for #feedingcommunity with us!

  7. Paula

    Awesome article and an extraordinary young lady to possess the ability to articulate such a wealth of information with such emotions. Phenomenal!!!

    • shfbnwncblog

      We think so too!

  8. Liz

    This has Blessed my soul!!! How wonderful it is to know that someone with such insight is working with the community in this capacity. I am proud to know this young lady who is working from a place of kindness and respect. We need more people like this young lady to work in our communities, God Bless!!

    • shfbnwncblog

      We are very fortunate to have Ashley– that goes without saying!

  9. Nikki

    What a wonderful and insightful piece…from such a wonderful and insightful woman. <3


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