The Food Bank of Western New York was awarded a $500,000 grant from The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation to perform critical capital improvements to increase efficiency, better meet the growing need in Western New York, and ensure the continued success of the organization.
Members of the Food Bank of Western New York's board of directors and staff and representatives of The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation announced the grant Tuesday during a press conference at Resurrection Life Food Pantry in Cheektowaga, one of the Food Bank's 326 member agencies.
Under the grant, the Food Bank was able to purchase a new refrigerated truck with a lift gate in order to enhance its mobile food pantry program. The new truck will increase the Food Bank's distribution of fresh perishables by more than 640,000 pounds per year.
The grant will also allow the Food Bank to perform much-needed technology and infrastructure upgrades, including the implementation of a warehouse barcoding system to improve inventory accuracy, the renovation of the Food Bank's volunteer sorting area, and the construction of a more efficient racking and storage system. Grant monies were also used to purchase new warehouse equipment, and an all-wheel drive staff vehicle to further expand nutrition education programs and site visits completed throughout the Food Bank's four-county service area.
"We are pleased to announce this grant to the Food Bank of WNY to support the incredible and impactful work they do for so many Western New Yorkers," said Mary Wilson, wife of Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. and foundation trustee. "Among the focus areas of the foundation is improving quality of life and ensuring healthy lifestyles for those in need. Without access to nutritious food, communities cannot thrive. We are glad to be a part of this important cause."
"Thanks to the generosity of the Western New York community, the Food Bank of Western New York is able to procure and distribute nutritious food and resources to nearly 117,000 individuals each and every month. However, it has always been a challenge for us to secure funding for much-needed capital improvements," said Marylou Borowiak, president and CEO of the Food Bank of Western New York. "We are incredibly grateful to The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation for this generous grant, which will allow us to purchase essential technology and equipment in order to better serve local families in need. We are fortunate to have The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation as a partner as we continue to fight hunger one day at a time."
The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation is a private foundation headquartered in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan. It was established in 2011 by Wilson to eventually become the vehicle to receive a substantial amount of his estate's proceeds, which are to be used exclusively for charitable purposes.
Wilson passed away March 25, 2014. The trustees recently liquidated the majority of his estate's assets and funded the foundation with $1.2 billion in early 2015. It measures in the top five of Michigan-based private foundations and has a 20-year lifespan.
The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation will operate as a grant-making organization, dedicated primarily to sustained investment in the quality of life of the people of Western New York and Southeastern Michigan.
The Food Bank of WNY is the primary hunger relief organization in Western New York, obtaining and distributing food to 326 member agencies, including food pantries, shelters, soup kitchens, afterschool programs and senior citizen centers in Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie and Niagara counties. Through these agencies, every month the Food Bank of WNY serves 116,691 individuals, including 41,348 families, nearly 44,000 children and infants, and 13,194 senior citizens. For more information, visit www.foodbankwny.org.