BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Every month, tens of thousands of local families rely on help from the Food Bank of WNY to keep food on their tables. Now, the Food Bank is relying on your help to meet the demand, and fill some of the many empty shelves in its warehouse.
The Food Bank is calling on community members to take part in the Walk Off Hunger event on July 29, a critical fundraiser for the organization this time of year.
“During the summer, we find that a lot of the donations slow down for the Food Bank of Western New York, but the need remains high,” explained Ramon Morales, a board member for the Food Bank of WNY. “A lot of these families, their children rely on the reduced price meals or free meals that school provides them, and during the summer those meals are lost.”
“Hunger is 365 days a year, so we really need the support of the community, whether it’s a food donation or a fund donation to help us feed our families in need,” added Catherine Shick, Public and Community Relations Manager with the Food Bank of Western New York.
The Food Bank and its partner agencies are hoping to bring in a lot of fund donations at the end of this month, through the 10th annual Walk Off Hunger event. The two-mile walk and family festival, presented by Life Storage and hosted by Calvary Episcopal Church and Congregation Shir Shalom, will be held in Island Park in Williamsville.
You can register online now on the Food Bank of WNY’s website or in person on the day of the walk, beginning at 10 a.m. The walk kicks off at 11 a.m.
“It’s a great time,” Shick said. “Not only are you having a great time, but you’re making a difference in the lives of so many of our community members.”
Since it started a decade ago, this event has grown from just a small crowd of walkers to about 700 participants last year.
This year, organizers are hoping to get 1,000 people to take part, to help raise $100,000.
That money will go a long way for the Food Bank of Western New York as it continues to help as many as 135,000 individuals a month through its 341 member agencies in Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, and Niagara Counties.
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“The $100,000 will help us provide 600,000 meals,” said Morales, the chairman of this year’s Walk. “It’s amazing the buying power of the Food Bank. For every dollar we can provide six meals.”
“I think people don’t realize that any little bit helps,” agreed Diane Piegza, Vice President of Community Affairs for Life Storage, the Walk’s presenting sponsor.
Those on the front lines in the fight against hunger, like Carmaletta Zandi and Bunmi Aboli with the Evangel Food Pantry in Williamsville, say many people don’t realize how many of their neighbors need this kind of help. “We have a lot of refugees in our community that we serve. We have families that have been unemployed or we have single parent families,” Zandi explained.
“You can just walk past without knowing the deep need that they really have,” Aboli said. “Some people are suffering in silence.”
If you’d like to help local families in need by taking part in the Walk Off Hunger event, you can register online now.
Registration costs $25/person. Children 16 and under can take part for free.
Free parking is available for the event at Mill Middle School, 505 Mill Street, Williamsville, where a free shuttle service will be provided.
News 4 spent Wednesday morning at the Food Bank of WNY on Holt Street learning more about the Walk Off Hunger event and the need for the community’s help. Watch the videos below to see some of our Wake Up coverage.
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