AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB) – We are in the final stretch of this year’s Fill the Backpack donation drive. News 4 has teamed up with Wegmans and the Food Bank of Western New York to help make sure children in need not go hungry over the weekends.
This year’s collection campaign was meant to help 23 schools in Western New York send children home every Friday with food to last them through Monday during the school year. That’s seven more schools then we were able to help last year.
And, the goal this year was to collect 50,000 pounds of food to do that. But at last check, 93,332 pounds of food has been donated, so a new goal of 100,000 pounds of food has been set. The collection drive runs through Saturday, and we’re counting on you to help us reach that goal.
“We are so excited. Western New York continues to be an incredibly generous and giving community,” said Stephanie Lawson, youth program supervisor for the Food Bank of Western New York.
Our community has already crushed the original 50,000 pound goal that was set at the beginning of this campaign, because so many people have come out to help fight hunger. Even Buster Bison was doing his part on Friday morning, buying a bag of food at the Alberta Drive Wegmans in Amherst to donate to the Backpack program.
“This food is going to a great cause. All the food is going to come back to the food bank, be sorted, and then sent out to children in need for the school year,” Lawson explained.
The need for this program here in Western New York is big. The latest stats show nearly half of children in the city of Buffalo live at or below the poverty line. One quarter of children in Niagara Falls do not get enough to eat. Families across our region depend on this Backpack program to keep their children fed over the weekends during the school year. “This is one of those programs, I think, when you hear about who is benefiting from the program, people just want to step up and get involved,” said Michele Mehaffy, Consumer Affairs Manager for Wegmans.
But the level of involvement we’ve seen so far is more than company reps could have asked for when this year’s campaign kicked off a couple weeks ago. “We like to exceed expectations of our customers at Wegmans and I have got to tell you, our customers have exceeded our expectations this time,” said the manager of the Wegmans on Dick Road, Tim Wangler, who also serves on the board for the Food Bank of Western New York.
Now, though, the bar has been raised and everyone has high hopes about doing even more good. “The expectations, I think, that the food bank has for the backpack program are will beyond the 23 schools that they have right now and so the fact that we can continue to grow this and help them grow the program and help even more kids in Western New York, that really is in the hands of Western New Yorkers right now,” Wangler said.
If you would like to donate, you can purchase a bag of food for around $3, $5, or $10 at your local Wegmans store. You can also buy individual items off the wish list to donate.
The collection campaign ends Saturday, June 27, 2015. A final tally on the amount of food collected this year is expected Monday.