Campaign begins to put food on the tables of seniors and families this holiday season; Food Bank sets goal of 6,000 turkeys by Thanksgiving
Congressman Brian Higgins visited the Food Bank of Western New York as communities across the country recognized National Food Day with events aimed at promoting access to healthy food. Higgins and Marylou Borowiak, president and CEO of the Food Bank of WNY, marked the day with a kick-off to the annual food collection drive aimed at putting food on the tables of seniors and families this holiday season.
"No one should go hungry," Higgins said. "Today and every day, we need to come together to better position our community economically to improve access to healthy foods and work to ensure our neighbors can put food on the table. I commend the Food Bank of WNY and their many partners for the work they do to address this urgent need."
"This year we have approximately 39,000 families relying on our services, and we will need to acquire additional turkey donations to meet the increased need," Borowiak said. "As of today, we need 6,000 donated turkeys by Thanksgiving to provide for our local families in need. We are counting on the generosity of the Western New York community to come through with enough turkeys to help us provide holiday meals to those we serve."
Each month, the Food Bank of WNY serves 106,000 individuals, including nearly 37,000 children and more than 11,000 seniors who receive food and non-food essentials from the 330 member agencies such as food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and group homes in Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie and Niagara counties.
Senior citizens and children represent 44 percent of those served by the Food Bank of WNY and are the fastest growing populations in need locally. The growth in need among seniors has been compounded by cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which Higgins opposed. The need among children is being addressed through the Food Bank of WNY's "BackPack" program that serves more than 1,000 children in 16 schools found to have limited access to food on the weekends.
The Food Bank of WNY "Faces of Hunger" 2014 report found 59 percent of all individuals served indicated they have been forced to choose between paying for medicine/medical care or food in the past 12 months; and 68 percent say they have had to choose between paying for utilities or food in the past year. The report also found 27 percent of those served are veterans.
This year, more than 8,000 events will be held in conjunction with National Food Day. The events will cover a number of interest areas, including reducing hunger and addressing the challenges of access to fresh and healthy foods.
Feeding America, a national organization of member food banks that includes the Food Bank of WNY, reports one in six people in the U.S. struggle with hunger. Feeding America also reports 12.9 percent of the population in Erie County and 12.3 percent in Niagara County are considered "food insecure."
For more information, or to help, visit the Food Bank of WNY website at www.foodbankwny.org or call 716-852-1305.