Women in front of farm field holding fresh beets and smiling at the camera.

Co-Founder Jean Rambusch McGee

On Bringing Dignity to Hunger Relief

And How a Little Bit of Heart Goes a Long Way

Last week we shared Alison’s story and her inspiration to start Second Chance Foods. Shortly after she was moved to take action, Alison called Jean Rambusch McGee, a friend from her homeschooling network, to see if she wanted to help rescue food and develop the nonprofit. Jean was thrilled to join the cause, and together they worked to create Second Chance Foods, later adding Martha Elder as the third board member (More about Martha’s journey from founder to Executive Director and her vision for our future next week!)

"I was still working, so I wasn't sure how much time I had to give, but I knew I had the heart to put into it." -Jean

woman holds two apple pickers in the middle of an orchard.

Jean has always been passionate about environmental, nutrition, and social justice issues. She also has past experience needing food assistance. In the 90s, while raising her children, Jean and her family used government food benefits to help feed her family. “While I was grateful for this assistance, I intimately understand the need to uphold dignity for the recipients. I was shamed by others in public, and I understand the fear of not knowing how I could provide healthy food for my kids. I am most proud of how SCF can supply these healthy food options that were non-existent when I was in need.” 


That’s why one aspect of Second Chance Foods that Jean is particularly proud of is the love and dignity that goes into our services. “We talk a lot about treating people with dignity and respect and ensuring that shame isn’t there. We don’t ask people to prove their need; we trust them.”

Volunteering Wherever Needed

Over the last seven years, Jean has stayed involved with Second Chance Foods in almost every way possible. Originally, Jean would go to one grocery store to pick up whatever they had and get it straight to one of our food pantry partners as they set up. She had to time it right because Second Chance Foods didn’t have *any* food storage yet, and most of the food pantries had limited space. When the meal program took off, Jean helped cook every Tuesday and Friday for the first four years until transitioning to farm pick-ups and gleaning. Jean would take on what she could to help as different needs arose. Last year, Jean gleaned every Monday from one of our private farm partners. 

"It became a healing practice for me to get outside while still helping people. I'd go to his farm every week, even if it was raining, and take everything back to the kitchen." -Jean

Woman stands holding a yellow tray filled with tomatoes in front of a green house and farm field.

Continuing to Glean

From there, Jean started picking up food from Glynwood, which she continues to do and is her favorite. Due to scheduling conflicts, she can’t help glean at Hilltop Hanover on Mondays anymore but loves the opportunity to get back to the farm, especially Glynwood. She even gets to share the experience with her 2-year-old granddaughter sometimes! 

"It's a lot of driving to pick up the food, take it to the kitchen, then return the farm bins, but it's worth it. It's so beautiful up there and a place where I feel like I can breathe." -Jean

More About Jean

Jean has a background in physiology and nutrition, ran a food Co-Op for 27 years, and served on the board of Something Good In the World, a nonprofit that provides experiential outdoor educational programs and resources to children of all ages. She is the Second Chance Foods Board Secretary and as a volunteer feels blessed with the opportunity to get her hands dirty on so many different farms and give back to the community. She would love to see Second Chance Foods “go out of business” because everyone can access healthy food. But, until that day, she hopes we can raise enough funds and grow our capacity to connect more people with nourishing meals and fresh foods. 

"I love volunteering with Second Chance Foods because I love knowing less people are going to bed hungry." - Jean

Following Jean's Passion

woman holds sign that shows she loves volunteering because it means less people are going to bed hungry

A Collective Impact!

Not everyone can volunteer every week, but you can still make a difference! One thing our founders know is that when you join together with passionate people who care about the community amazing things can happen. Will you join us in food justice by making a donation, giving time, or spreading the word?

Purchase an item off our Amazon Wish List to help our growing operations!

Share this post with a friend or on your social media to raise more awareness. 

Join a community of like minded people who care about food waste, hunger, and the environment.

Make Change At Home with our guide for reducing food waste in your own kitchen.

Thank You, Jean
and Thank You, to everyone who purchased a gift, donated, or shared our story with others. Stay tuned next week when we look to the future of Second Chance Foods and how your support connects more food with our community!

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Jean Rambusch McGee

I am passionate about environmental, nutritional, and social justice issues. Second Chance Foods addresses all of these. I love spending time outdoors and nature is, for me, a teacher and a healer. While raising my children, I was on a food stamp program, twice, through WIC (Woman, Infants, and Children). While I am grateful for this assistance, I intimately understand the feeling of food insecurity. My favorite part of working with Second Chance Foods is the opportunity to harvest on the local farms we collaborate with. I value the fresh, organic produce I personally glean for our clients.

I have lived in Putnam County since 1991 raising my 3 children, all of whom are involved in non-profit work. Over the years, I have studied on the graduate level Physiology of Exercise, Nutrition, Cardiac Rehabilitation, and Integrative Holistic Health and Healing. As an instructor of massage therapy, I have been able to incorporate all of these areas in my teachings, with the hope of instilling an appreciation for a wholistic approach to life in my students and massage clients. As a co-founder of Second Chance Foods I have been blessed with the opportunity to be on different farms and to start learning how to grow my own food. A huge plus since I have a love for digging in the dirt.

Honey Nut Squash, Butternut Squash, and Cauliflower. Chopped, coated with oil, and roasted.

Homeschooling, self-care, one of my favorite authors, Barbara Kingsolver (she writes both fiction and non-fiction heavily based on nature), Andrew Goldsworthy, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and my love for reading seed catalogs.

contact us

We’d love to talk with you more!

P.O. Box 93

Carmel, NY10512