BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – This is the season when many of us dig deep into our pockets to help our neighbors in need, but hunger is a real problem in our community year round, and the Food Bank of WNY always needs more help making sure children don’t go hungry over the weekends when they are out of school.
This is the first year the Food Bank has volunteers at its warehouse packing bags for its backpack program. In years past, counselors and other staff members at the partner schools were responsible for packing the bags, a daunting task in some of the schools where hundreds of students benefit from the program.
Every week, the Food Bank distributes around 3,000 bags of food to students at 48 elementary schools in our area. Volunteers are needed every week to make that possible.
This week, Dunkin Donuts employees stepped up to help.
They spent Monday morning working in a sort of assembly line, placing things like canned veggies, peanut butter, rice, and breakfast bars into bags, then boxing them up to send to the schools.
“The backpack program is so necessary because a lot of kids in our community get free breakfast and lunch at school on Mondays through Fridays, and those may be the only two meals that they eat that day, so the question at the Food Bank was what do they do on Saturdays and Sundays when they go without that benefit,” explained Elyse Burgher, Agency and Community Programs Manager for the Food Bank of WNY. “This is a way to make sure everyone is well fed.”
It takes a lot of volunteer hours to pack the bags and a lot of donations to keep the program going. Dunkin Brands provides both. “We are only as strong as our local community so it really means a lot to us to give back whenever we can and we absolutely love partnering with the Food Bank. They’ve been great,” said Abbey Celeste, Associate Field Marketing Manager for Dunkin Brands, who was helping fill bags for the Backpack Program Monday.
Of course, News 4 viewers also do a lot to help, giving big every June when WIVB teams up with Wegman’s for the annual donation drive. For the 2017 Fill the Backpack campaign, you gave 193,377 pounds of food — tens of thousands of pounds more than even the year before.
“It was a wonderful humbling thing to see, so it’s just amazing the support we have in the community,” Burgher said.
Of course, more help is always needed for the Backpack Program and all of the feeding programs the Food Bank of WNY provides. Click here for more information about volunteering.
If you’d like to make a donation, click here.