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Helping the hungry

Advocacy within the community

Government, businesses, and volunteers continually come together in support of Food Bank, providing funding, commodities and time to help sustain the organization and its good work

"The beauty of it is it's a model of cooperation," Slater said.

Funds come primarily from state government, while the federal government supplies private label food commodities for distribution. Businesses support Food Bank through philanthropy, Slater said.

"Wegmans is a very big supporter," he said. "They give us perishable foods."

The Fresh Foods program allows the Food Bank to pick up food from not only Wegmans, but also food wholesalers and dairies for immediate delivery to different geographic sites every day, Monday through Friday.

Farmers are a major contributor to the organization as well and the generosity comes full circle. Slater said they also purchase from local farms to encourage and promote the agricultural community.

"What the Food Bank has become in the emergency food network is a model of collaboration," Slater said. "You've got government business [and] not for profit; you've got community-based organizations and faith-based organizations that are doing the direct service -- every religion; every ethnicity. And you've got both corporate and government support. It's beautiful. It's working very, very well."

Want to help?

The Food Bank network built up in the late 70s and early 80s in response to the economy and some government policies, Slater said.

"It's been built on the backs of people that are selfless, that want to do good," he said. "That volunteer force is aging. The 60-year-old grandmother that started the church food pantries is now 80. It's critical that younger people understand the need to give service and how it enhances their life when you share. You get the good karma -- things come back at you multiple times."

People of all ages are welcome to volunteer and can choose from a multitude of tasks -- from storing and stacking food in the warehouse to other, less physical work.

The Food Bank frequently receives help from groups of boy scouts, fraternities, sororities, schools and civic groups, as well as individuals looking to donate time and goodwill.

For information on volunteer services at Food Bank or any one of its member agencies, call the Food Bank of CNY at 437-1899 or visit foodbankcny.org.

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