Fill the Backpack campaign exceeds goal

BUFFALO, NY (WIVB)- The 2014 Fill the Backpack Campaign, sponsored by News 4, Wegmans, and the Food Bank of Western New York was a huge success this year.

The two-week long drive brought in more than 40,000 pounds of food, which will help feed children during the next school year.

Every Friday, the food will go home in the backpacks of eligible school children, and ensure they have nutritious meals over the weekend.

From June 15 – June 28, local Wegmans stores collected non-perishable food items for this program. Although “Fill the Backpack” has been in the area since 2010, this is the first year that Wegmans and News 4 have sponsored it and held a drive. Michele Mehaffy, the Director of Buffalo Consumer Affairs for Wegmans, said this year’s drive was a major success, especially when compared to Rochester. She said, “In Rochester they have 21 stores and they collected 50,000 pounds. Here in Western New York, through our 11 stores, we were able to collect 40,000 pounds of food, which I think is pretty phenomenal”.

On Tuesday, July 8, Wegmans employees gathered at the Food Bank of Western New York warehouse to sort through all 40,000 pounds of food.

“It’s really good to help full circle and see boxing up the food and really get to see everything, because we only got to see what our store was donating. Now we get to see the whole big picture of all this food that we donated and it’s a really good feeling”, said Christina Renner, who was the campaign manager for the drive at the West Seneca Wegmans.

Everyone involved agrees that the reason behind the program is why so many people in Western New York were willing to donate.

“It’s the people of Western New York. When you hear about the program and you hear about who benefits from this program, when you’re talking about kids I think that people just want to support it. They want to support something that helps feed kids”, said Michele Mehaffy.

The new partnership with Wegmans and News 4 also helped make the campaign successful. Stephanie Lawson is the Agency Grants and Youth Programs Supervisor for the Food Bank of WNY and said, “[You] have been incredible partners. The employees at Wegmans have really stepped up. They have made this program so successful by reaching out to their customers, really learning about the program and educating the customers in the store right at the register about where their donation was going, 40,000 pounds is an absolutely incredible result and we are so grateful. Western New York continues to amaze me; we have the most generous neighbors.

For more on the Fill the Backpack program and how you can donate to it, visit the Food Bank website.

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