Citizens Bank gives Food Bank of WNY grant to expand School Pantry program

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The Food Bank of Western New York is getting a generous donation from Citizens Bank to help feed more families in need in our area.

Citizens Bank announced that it is giving a $20,000 to the Food Bank of Western New York to support its growing School Pantry program.

The School Pantry program started last year in two high schools and has now expanded to six high schools, allowing students to shop discretely in their school settings for everything their families need for a week or two at a time.

“We’ve seen a lot of kids who are the primary providers, who are cooking themselves, living alone, or mom or dad is out of a job and they are the ones who need to shop for their families,” explained Elyse Burgher, Agency and Community Programs Manager for the Food Bank of Western New York.

The School Pantry program has a client choice model, allowing the students to choose which food items to bring home for their families. They are able to select from fresh produce, meat, and dairy products, as well as shelf stable items like canned vegetables and pastas.

MORE | Click here for more information about the School Pantry program

The program can make a big difference for students who benefit from the opportunities in their schools.

“We have about 85 percent of our students that receive free and reduced lunch, which is an indicator of poverty, so being able to allow our students to come in weekly and shop for their families is huge,” said Sarah Rohde, the director of the Family Support Center at the Charter School for Applied Technologies.

“It’s so exciting to be able to provide this program to the schools that are in need,” Burgher said. “Through personal donations and through corporate donations, we’re really able to expand this program.”

The $20,000 gift from Citizens Bank, as part of its Citizens Helping Citizens Fight Hunger initiative, will allow the program to continue to expand in the future.

“All of the communities that we work and live in, we try to give back, and this is one of the programs that helps that happen,” explained Stephen Scello, Senior Vice President for Citizens Bank.

The grant from Citizens Bank will help purchase new shelves, refrigerators, and freezers for the schools that take part in the School Pantry program. It will also help bring the program to more schools down the road. “We hope to keep growing it. The results have been great, the feedback has been great,” Scello told News 4. “Working with the Food Bank is always a big win for the community, so we hope to see this program keep growing.”

The Food Bank of Western New York always needs more support. Click here to learn more about the Food Bank’s programs and how you can make a donation.

News 4’s Katie Alexander spent Monday morning at the Food Bank of Western New York, checking out the School Pantry program and how the Citizens Bank donation will help. Watch the videos below for our full coverage.

APP USERS | Click here to enable videos.

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