Residents in need of food in Niagara County are getting extra support this holiday season. The Food Bank of Western New York announced today a new 26-foot truck will serve 41 of their Niagara County member agencies.
In addition, it expands their Direct Delivery Program, which will allow the organization to distribute products to their partner's doorsteps.
Previously, Food Bank agencies in Niagara would use personal or rental vehicles to pick up food.
Western New York Food Bank President and CEO Tara Ellis said this will save money and resources for all involved.
“12 percent of the population in Niagara County is struggling with hunger,” said Ellis. “Through those 41 agencies we’re making sure that people are able to have the nutritious food they need to stay healthy and well and to be able to focus on things like children being able to focus in schools to seniors just being able to stay well enough to stay in their own homes.”
Ellis said the $140,000 dollar vehicle was made possible because of a generous anonymous donor.
“The food will be chosen by all of the agencies. The soup kitchens, food pantries, emergency shelters. They tell us what they want and what they want and what they need. We pack it out on to pallets and we deliver it directly to their door. It’s going to save them lots of money, lots of human resources, financial resources, wear and tear on their personal vehicles. It’s really been a struggle for these agencies. 41 agencies will now benefit from the use of this truck,” she said.
The organization now has 12 trucks making deliveries to 4 counties including Erie, Niagara, and Chautauqua. The addition of this new truck allows them to provide direct delivery services to all of their 317 agencies throughout the four-county region.
Ellis said hunger is pervasive in every zip code year round.
“When you’re paying those heating bills just trying to keep your home warm enough so that the pipes are not bursting, those are dollars that potentially could have been going in to a family’s food budget. And of course you are buying more clothes, hats, and gloves. All of these things are taking away from the core essentials and we don’t want them to be taking away from food that people need to be healthy and well,” she said.
After the holiday season, Ellis said there’s an uptick in hungry families after school lets out for summer with kids staying at home. The Food Bank of WNY will be looking to add more pantry trucks in the future. The organization currently serves as many as 140,000 individuals a month.