For the last few years, retired West Seneca teachers have helped fill backpacks with items like cereal bars and cans of tuna fish for the Food Bank of Western New York. The Food Bank program helps tide over about 3,500 disadvantaged kids during the weekends they’re without free school lunch and breakfast.
The teachers now do this under the name of FeedMore Western New York, after the Food Bank merged with Meals on Wheels for Western New York.
“It’s a win-win for both groups to merge into one,” said one of the retired teachers, Liz Dolce. “I think you can do more, the more people you have involved, the better it is for an organization.”
The merger between the Food Bank and Meals on Wheels, announced in early 2019, became official New Year’s Eve after receiving approval from the New York State Attorney General’s Office.
Now that it’s truly one entity, FeedMore has several projects lined up for 2020, including expanding into Niagara County and providing groceries for older adults.
“It made all the sense in the world for us to come together, leverage our talent and resources and do even more services in order to make sure that we were filling unmet needs in our community,” said FeedMore communications director Catherine Shick, “making sure that no one had to go hungry and really bettering the quality of life for our vulnerable community members whether you’re age 2 or 102.”
FeedMore took over the services of Lockport Meals on Wheels in Niagara County this past October, delivering meals to the homes of about 50 homebound older adults. Starting this week, it will deliver to another 500 older adults in Niagara County, as it’s taking over home-delivered meal services for the Niagara County Office of the Aging.
“Whenever there’s an opportunity to meet the needs of the community, we are ready to be there and we’re really looking forward to continuing to grow,” Shick said.
FeedMore is also trying to fill any potential gaps.
The organization feeds roughly 3,200 mobile older adults through its congregate dining sites. It now plans to start sending those older adults home with groceries, like fruits, vegetables and nonperishable items.
“We were hearing from a lot of clients that do take advantage of our congregate dining opportunities that that may have been the only nutritious meal they had that day,” Shick said. “So we wanted to make sure we were able to leverage our home-delivered meal services and our food banking programs together to create this opportunity.”
FeedMore plans to launch a pilot version of this program at three of their congregate dining sites starting this summer.
“It’s one of the wonderful examples of how coming together we can provide more food and more good,” Shick said, “which is essentially our new tagline of FeedMore Western New York.”