The Food Bank of Central New York held its 22nd Annual Member Program Conference and Community Awareness Day on Oct. 8 at the Double Tree Inn in East Syracuse.
More that 300 people from the emergency food networks in eleven CNY counties attended the event, where the theme was "hunger from the frontlines: sharing your local experience." The all-day conference featured multiple seminars, which ranged from nutrition and food safety to food stamps and customer service, as well as networking opportunities, lunch and keynote speaker, Thomas Slater.
Slater, executive director of Food Bank of CNY, described the conference as an opportunity for members of emergency food service programs-which include food pantries, shelters and soup kitchens-to share "best practices" within the industry from urban, suburban and rural perspectives.
The turnout was the largest the conference has ever seen since it began in 1988, said Slater. Due to the recession, there is an increase in the number of working class families, as well as homeless, that are turning to the emergency food services for daily essentials. This, in turn, has led to the need for more efficient practices by the programs, explained Slater.
Food Bank of CNY, located at 6970 Schuyler Road in East Syracuse, acts as the major distribution center to nearly 476 food programs in Cayuga, Chenango, Cortland, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, Oswego, and St. Lawrence counties. Its mission is "to eliminate hunger through nutritious food distribution, education and advocacy in cooperation with the community." Each year, the non-profit organization provides approximately 7.8 million meals to individuals in CNY.
"In reality, we couldn't be successful without our donors and our volunteers." Slater said. "It's a miracle each day."
For more information on their services, contact Food Bank of CNY at 437-1899 or its website, foodbankcny.org.