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Rendering provided by FeedMore WNY
Rendering provided by FeedMore WNY

Facing 'dire space limitations,' FeedMore WNY announces plan to build new, unified facility


Wed, Jun 14th 2023 07:20 pm

Preliminary design addresses current & future needs, expands workforce development, enlarges warehouse area, increases commercial kitchen capacity, adds new space for clean rooms to repack large donations

In what it called “a continued commitment to strengthen and expand feeding programs in Western New York and reach more underserved community members,” FeedMore WNY announced plans to build a new facility.

Since the merger of the Food Bank of WNY and Meals on Wheels for WNY in January 2020, FeedMore WNY has been operating out of multiple locations, including two primary facilities – the legacy Food Bank of WNY facility at 91 Holt St., and the legacy Meals on Wheels for WNY facility at 100 James E. Casey Drive.

A press release stated, “The merger led to organic growth through program expansion and the number of people served by FeedMore WNY. The number of people served today has already exceeded 10-year growth projections. In 2022, FeedMore WNY provided nutritional assistance to 197,567 community members through our various programs and services, more than the number of people served by the organization in 2020 at the height of the pandemic.

“Between the rapid growth of program participants and the increased demand for services, the FeedMore WNY facilities are operating far beyond their capacity. External design and logistics firm LIDD characterized the current facility situation as ‘simply dire.’

“FeedMore WNY is operating with insufficient space to meet the needs of the community. The nonprofit is renting or borrowing nearly 30,000 square-feet of freezer, cooler and dry storage space, and there is no room to hire additional staff or grow programs. In the past couple of years, FeedMore WNY had to turn away roughly 1.2 million pounds of food donations annually because they could not be stored or repacked safely.”

Tara A. Ellis, president and CEO of FeedMore WNY, said “We are working with a number of foundations, corporations and community members on lead commitments of significant, multiyear gifts in support of this important effort. New York state Gov. Kathy Hochul and state lawmakers included $24 million for the project in the recently passed budget. Sen. Chuck Schumer, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and former Rep. Chris Jacobs also helped secure $2 million in federal funding and Assemblyman Jon Rivera secured a lead grant of $250,000/

“And this is just the start. We will need many, many commitments – large and small – to secure FeedMore’s future. There will be a celebratory campaign kickoff later this year for all of our Western New York community members to participate in this critical community campaign.”

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said, “Due to rising food costs, many Western New Yorkers have turned to their local food pantries for assistance in feeding their families. Gov. Hochul’s strategic support of FeedMore WNY’s urgently needed new distribution center is driving the project forward and reinforcing New York state’s commitment to ensuring food bank patrons will have access to fresh and nutritious food for the long-term.”

The campus will be built on 74 acres of land in Hamburg, with an estimated cost of $99 million. The preliminary design of the new 197,700-square-foot facility increases the warehouse space, increases commercial kitchen capacity, expands the workforce development program (RISE – Readying Individuals for Success and Employment), adds dedicated clean rooms to repack donated pet and human food, and provides space to expand feeding programs, as well as creates capacity to increase staff size by approximately 25% and volunteer hours by 50%.”

The press release noted, “FeedMore WNY’s move to Hamburg will not affect its clients, as our services are brought directly to them, and less than 1% of our volunteers work in one of our current buildings. The nonprofit’s model of operation is to bring its services directly to clients.

“The Hamburg location is roughly the geographic center of FeedMore WNY’s four-county service area and is ideal for this distribution method.”

FeedMore WNY alleviates hunger and assists community members of all ages throughout Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie and Niagara counties. More information can be found at www.feedmorewny.org.

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