A program that distributes food to Chautauqua County residents in need is expanding its operation.
The Food Bank of WNY opened a distribution center that’s nearly three times larger than its former facility. The new center will expand opportunities to work with local vendors, an agency official told WBFO.
“There wasn’t enough room for our staff to operate down there. It also didn’t provide us any opportunity to work with more of the local farmers, manufacturers, and retailers,” said Food Bank Operations Director Justin Guerin. “People in the community who’d be looking to offer surplus product to our food bank; we couldn’t get any of that because the facility was just too small.”
The 8,000-square-foot center has a larger cooler that can hold three-quarters of a tractor-trailer of fresh fruit and vegetables.
In addition to the expanded warehouse, the Food Bank announced that it has acquired a new 26-foot refrigerated delivery truck.
“This truck is really going to speed up the level of service that we have to our agencies in that area,” Guerin said. “The truck we had been using was not able to keep up with the rate of pace of growth that we have in that area.”
Many residents in Chautauqua County have experienced financial difficulties following the closure of several large companies. Over the past decade, the Food Bank has seen witnessed a dramatic increase in the number of people who need assistance.
“We are essentially servicing 18,000 people in any given month,” Guerin said. “We are distributing roughly 2 million pounds of food to that area that goes directly to the people in need. It’s just an area where we have seen some pretty hard economic times, opportunities are scarce so we increased our service level.”
The new distribution center has received support from numerous entities, including the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, The Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation, Delta and Wegmans.