NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – On a typical day, about 75,000 pounds of food goes out the doors of Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee to partner agencies like food banks across 46 counties.

Frank Ellmo, the Senior Director of Operations at Second Harvest says things changed in March.

“When the pandemic and all hit — the demand on our operations here went through the roof,” said Ellmo. “We had four days that were right at 200,000 pounds.”

The key to meeting this demand was the 55 essential workers of the operations team, those tasked with all aspects of food distribution.

Operations staff started working long hours – six days a week in three warehouse facilities. Amber Myers, who is one of the transportation coordinators, normally audits the previous days paperwork – and plans the next day’s food delivery routes.

But during a week when the operations team was on pace to deliver around a million pounds of food, she had to take some matters into her own hands.

“So of course it was myself and our driver manager as well both jumped into trucks and went and delivered the loads ourselves,” said Myers. “I’ve delivered several loads in my personal vehicle in the evenings when all the drivers were gone.”

Ryan Stanton, the Senior Manager of Operations who would normally be in this office overseeing the three warehouse facilities has also jumped in to help.

“And I’ve spend the last three months on the floor on a fork lift you know with the rest of the warehouse team our staff didn’t grow – we just got busier and it was all hands on deck,” said Stanton.

5 Loaves Food Pantry in Overton County was serving 150 families a week at one site prior to the pandemic crisis.

“Crisis hit, and we went up over a week to around a thousand families that we were serving at two separate sites. The Second Harvest Operations Team are heroes because they stepped up to the plate and never slowed down supporting us not only on one site but a second site we had to open,” said Daylene Farley. “We had clients who had tears in their eyes, and they were so grateful that they had the food during this time.”

So we honor Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee’s Operations Team as our News 2 Gives Back Hometown Heroes for the month of June — as they’ve helped distribute up to one million pounds of food a week across 46 counties so local food banks could serve families and individuals in need.

If you’d like to help Second Harvest by making a donation, click here.