by Susan Lintner, Director of Program & Agency Services
As the economic climate continues to be bleak, demand for our services and the services of our agencies continues to grow. In 2011, we distributed 25,684,484 pounds of food and other supplies, a 30% increase from when the recession hit in 2008.
To meet this need, we have expanded our outreach and training to help agency staff increase their ability to meet the changing needs of their clients, maximize their use of the Food Bank’s supplies, and take advantage of other community resources. In these ways, we help agencies stretch their budgets so they can feed the growing number of people turning to them for food assistance.
The Food Bank provides a wide variety of workshops on a monthly basis, such as:
- Agency Best Practices
- Accommodating Special Diets
- Client Choice for Food Pantries
- Disaster Preparedness
- Food Bank Orientation
- Food Safety
- Fundraising 101
- Menu Planning
- Outreach Opportunities
- Pantry Tours
- What’s in a Bag?
- And More!
Our Agency Relations staff works hard to address the needs of our member agencies and offer them support. Food Bank staff members analyze agency ordering patterns to ensure agencies optimize their use of the Food Bank. In addition, we educate member agency staff so they can provide resources beyond emergency food, such as information on Food Stamps, affordable health care, and nutrition.
Food Bank Programs
Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)
As a sponsor of this federal program, the Food Bank partners with community agencies to provide nutritious breakfasts and lunches to low-income school-aged children throughout the summer, when school breakfasts and lunches are not available. The Food Bank sponsors sites in Albany, Montgomery, and Fulton Counties. (SFSP is an equal opportunity provider and employer.) In 2011, we provided a total of 13,740 meals (4,798 breakfasts and 8,942 lunches) to children in need, an increase of 2,372 meals from 2010.
The BackPack Program helps alleviate child hunger by providing at-risk children with nutritious and easy-to-prepare food on weekends, when other resources may not be available. The Food Bank provides backpacks filled with child-friendly and easy-to-prepare food each Friday during the school year. The Food Bank’s BackPack Program currently serves 500 students in 23 schools!
Kids Cafes are soup kitchens for children. In addition to providing healthy meals in a safe atmosphere, Kids Cafes provide athletic activities, homework assistance, and nutrition education to disadvantaged youth. The Food Bank currently operates a Kids Cafe at the Schenectady Boys & Girls Club’s Mont Pleasant site.
The Food Bank’s Mass Distributions – also called Mobile Pantries – supply people in low-income neighborhoods with surplus food on a monthly basis. Mass Distributions give people food over and above what they may receive at a food pantry, helping them stretch their limited dollars and giving their nutrition a boost through the provision of healthy food like yogurt, juice, and fresh produce.