Latest statistics show increase in need
Customers of seven local retailers donated $759,176 during the 22nd annual "Check Out Hunger" drive. This year's campaign was the second largest in "Check Out Hunger" history, nearly matching the record of $760,208 set in 2014. This is the largest fundraising campaign for the Food Bank of Western New York, and it enables the agency to procure and distribute food to its 326 member agencies in Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie and Niagara counties.
The "Check Out Hunger" campaign is critical to the Food Bank's mission of obtaining nutritious food and support from public and private sources and efficiently distributing these resources to the hungry in Western New York.
This time around, the drive was held from Nov. 24 through March 2. The participating retailers in November and December were Premier Gourmet, the Premier Group and Price Rite. The retailers participating in February were Dash's Market, Market in the Square, Tops Friendly Markets and Wegmans Food Markets. The Lexington Co-Operative will conduct its campaign in May and its results are expected to establish a new "Check Out Hunger" record for the Food Bank of WNY.
Organizers said that, while the results are extremely gratifying in that the money will help the Food Bank provide approximately 4.4 million meals for hungry families in need, the year-end numbers for those served in 2014 again show an increase in need. The number of senior citizens utilizing Food Bank of WNY agencies each month has increased 53 percent from last year to a record 13,194. Much of the seniors' increase is due to the cut in the federal SNAP (food stamps) program over one year ago.
The number of clients served by the agencies has increased 17 percent from 2013 to a monthly average of 116,821 individuals. The number of households in the four counties that rely on member agencies of the Food Bank each month has increased by 14 percent to a record 41,348. The number of children and infants served has increased by 2 percent to 43,875.
"We are overjoyed and extremely grateful to our retail partners for this tremendously successful 'Check Out Hunger' campaign," said Marylou Borowiak, President and CEO of the Food Bank of WNY. "We are so appreciative of the employees, especially the tireless efforts of the cashiers. We sincerely thank the customers for their generous support of this extremely important fundraiser for the Food Bank of WNY.
"The latest numbers of those we serve are increasing at an alarming rate, and it makes this near-record 'Check Out Hunger' campaign even more important so we can continue to serve those families in need."
"Helping to eradicate hunger in the Western New York community is an important part of Tops' core mission," said Frank Curci, Tops' chairman, president and CEO. "Especially now when our neighbors need help the most, this campaign allows the entire community to be part of that mission. We are so thankful to our associates and shoppers for their ongoing contributions."
Mike Keating, senior vice president of the Buffalo division for Wegmans Food Markets, said, "The success of 'Check Out Hunger' in our stores exemplifies the generosity of our customers and our employees. The Food Bank of WNY plays such an essential role in our community, and we know this will go a long way in helping fill the need of those it serves."
Shoppers had a choice of adding $2, $3, $5 or rounding up to their grocery bill.
The Food Bank of WNY is the primary hungry relief organization in Western New York, obtaining and then distributing food to member agencies such as pantries, shelters, soup kitchens, afterschool programs and senior citizen centers. The Food Bank of WNY is one of approximately 200 members of Feeding America, the nation's food bank network.