#kindcooperative Spotlight – Ben Hagler

Last month when we were working with the Second Harvest Food Bank, one person, in particular, kept popping up in my mind, my Uncle Ben Hagler out in Nashville, TN.

He has worked with the Second Harvest Food Bank out in Tennessee for a number of years and I thought it would be such a great idea to talk to him about his experience with the organization and why he chooses to pour his heart and soul into this charity on a regular basis.

Below you will find his personal thoughts, pictures and an interview on his experiences and the phenomenal organization that the Second Harvest Food Bank has grown to be. I hope you enjoy his story as much as we did…

“Hunger is a worldwide problem and lives in all of our communities. It has no boundaries and impact the lives of 1 in 7 Americans. In Tennessee, where I live, 1 in 6 children go to bed hungry every night and more than a million Tennesseans are at risk of hunger everyday.

An organization working for hunger issues I discovered upon moving here several years ago, is the Second Harvest Food Bankof Middle Tennessee.

Operating since 1978, its mission has been to feed hungry people and solve hunger issues in our community by collecting, processing, inspecting and sorting food that would otherwise be wasted. This food is then distributed to local soup kitchens and homeless shelters serving the hungry throughout middle Tennessee.

I began working with Second Harvest Food Bank over four years ago as a volunteer in the warehouse inspecting and sorting food with other volunteers. This was strenuous but satisfying work. 

I later discovered that the range of work the Second Harvest Food Bank was doing was much broader. There was the Culinary Arts Kitchen!

This Culinary Arts Kitchen, championed by a Chef and Sous-Chef and a staff of eager volunteers, were working hard to produce gourmet meals that were being prepared and served two days a week in their restaurant.

Having worked in a similar environment for years in Atlanta with Project Open Hand, preparing meals for people with AIDS and AIDS related illness, a kitchen was the place for me. Plus, at my age, the kitchen was more suited to my ability and energy level than lifting heavy boxes or food in the warehouse.

I soon began working as a volunteer in the Culinary Arts Kitchen. We, in the Culinary Arts Kitchen, buy our own food rather than use donated food and prepare it to be served 2 days a week in our restaurant to people in the community. We also serve gourmet meals to the general public on Wednesdays and Fridays.

The Culinary Arts Kitchen is not a “food line” for the homeless, since that need is taken care of by local soup kitchens and shelters with food the Second Harvest Food Bank provides free. However, in the Culinary Arts Kitchen, our meals are paid for by the customer and all the money goes directly back into the operating funds of the Second Harvest Food Bank.

In addition to the meals served, we also provide food for breakfast and luncheon meetings in the Second Harvest Food Bank facility, as well as off-site catered events such as weddings, banquets and dinners in private homes. 

All paid for by the customer and all going directly back into the operating funds of the Second Harvest Food Bank.

For me, it has been a gratifying experience to work alongside other volunteers once a week for the past 4 years. Plus, under the direction of our professionally trained Chef and Sous-Chef, I am also learning how to cook!

The problem of World Hunger is a problem we as humanity must commit ourselves to solve. It’s only a matter of choosing to shift our time, money and energy towards that end.

We are all in this together.”


Thank you SO much Uncle Ben for sharing your story with us. Love you! ~ Sue