Linda Napier, Director of Fayetteville-Manlius Community Outreach, runs the counter at the food pantry at 122 East Seneca Street in Manlius. Thanks to the Central New York Food Bank and the success of local holiday food drives, the food pantry in Manlius is well stocked. Demand remains on the increase throughout the year.
Manlius Local food bank and food pantry workers are pleased with the amount of food they took in during food drives over the holiday season, but remain concerned over the long term stocking of local pantries.
“Everyone remembers us around the holidays so that’s when donations are up, and then come July it’s a whole different story,” said Linda Napier, director of the Fayetteville-Manlius Community Outreach food pantry, located in Manlius. “They forget about us, but there is hunger every month of the year.”
And demand for food is growing during those months.
There was a 2.6 percent increase in need over the year 2011, said Kathleen Stress, director of internal operations for the Food Bank of Central New York.
The food bank stays very busy, supplying 75 percent of the food to 273 food pantries, kitchens and shelters in the 11 counties it covers.
“We are constantly purchasing food to make sure we are supplying food pantries through the entire year,” Stress said. “[In November, 2011] alone we took in 1.3 million pounds of food that we distributed.”
The food bank offers very low cost food items to local pantries.
“The food bank is wonderful,” Napier said. “They are a central repository for donated food items so that food pantries in every community can go look online, see donated items, and you can buy them very inexpensively.”
F-M Community Outreach also buys food from Tops and Wegmans grocery stores. This holiday season Tops sponsored its first Central New York food drive. Customers could donate bags of food to the drive in $5, $10 and $20 increments. It brought in 6,251 bags estimated at over 1 million pounds of food, Stress said.
“That was very successful,” she said. “It was our first year that we’ve ever done that. Really it just increases the amount of meals that we’re going to be able to put out to the food pantries and soup kitchens. It’s great from a publicity standpoint and we’re kind of creating awareness that hunger is right here in your community.”