BINGHAMTON — A new partnership between the Food Bank of the Southern Tier and Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse was formed with the hopes of reducing the thousands of Broome County residents facing hunger and food insecurity.
CHOW has become the Food Bank’s first and only re-distribution organization, an affiliation that will improve the program’s access to local, state and federal resources to distribute more food across Broome, said the Rev. Joseph Sellepack, executive director of Broome County Council of Churches that administers CHOW.
Although currently distributing a combined 3.1 million pounds of food annually in Broome, CHOW and Food Bank officials said during a news conference Thursday an additional 4.3 million pounds is needed to meet demand in the county.
“We still are nowhere near meeting the need that exists,” said Natasha Thompson, president and CEO of the Food Bank.
The Food Bank distributed more than 1.57 million pounds of food in 2011, reaching 31,984 residents in poverty, according to a news release, adding CHOW provided about 40,000 meals.
Among the benefits of the partnership is that CHOW will see its cost to purchase items from the Food Bank reduced by half, dropping to 9 cents per pound, Sellepack said.
CHOW, which operates a warehouse on Otseningo Street in Binghamton, distributes food through it’s network of more than 30 food pantries, 35 soup kitchens and several community meal programs.
The Food Bank, which serves six area counties including Broome, distributes food through more than 160 member agencies, which range from shelters to partnerships with other nonprofit agencies.
Before becoming the Food Bank’s first re-distribution organization, CHOW purchased food from the Food Bank and other sources such as grocery stores providing discounts, Sellepack said.
“Access to food is certainly a challenge,” Sellepack said, noting the reduced Food Bank price should help.
Thompson said the price dropped because the new partnership requires CHOW to improve its operation. For example, there is better inventory oversight, which eliminates food safety liabilities that drive up costs for organizations.
The partnership also allows CHOW to access resources through Feeding America, the federal network of food banks that provides funding and other aid.