Thursday, December 20, 2012

CHOW receives donation from Weis, customers

TOWN OF CHENANGO — The generosity of a supermarket chain and its customers will help feed the needy in the community this holiday season.

Weis Markets’ customers donated $10,346 during the grocery’s September “Fight Hunger” program. Weis added its own $15,000 to the donation, for a total of $25,346 to be given to the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse.

The money is given to the charity in the form of gift cards. CHOW gets a 20 percent discount off retail grocery prices at Weis to purchase food for its pantry.

“Their continued support is very important, especially during the holiday season,” said Mike Leahey, director of CHOW.

Weis District Manager Mike Umstead said food banks do a wonderful job.

“We are proud to support the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse and their much-needed work in the Southern Tier,” he said.

Weis has several programs that help feed the region’s hungry.

It participates in Broome Bounty, which donates perishable food that is near its expiration for immediate use by CHOW, Leahey said. The company also has its Round Up For CHOW program that runs throughout the year.

Written by:  Debbie Swartz

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Guest Viewpoint: Tier groups unite to fight hunger

On Thanksgiving, I read an article in the Press & Sun-Bulletin on “Hunger in The Southern Tier.” Raising awareness on the changing demographics of who hungry people are and how agencies are working to meet their needs is an important discussion for us to have at this time.

In many ways, the article mirrors the experience of the Broome County Council of Churches as we distribute food through our Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW) program. Currently, we are serving more than 8,000 people per month and are on pace to distribute nearly 2 million pounds of food this year.

A major change we have seen is the prevalence of working families that are seeking food for the first time. It is heartbreaking to learn that the children in these families do not look forward to holiday breaks because at home they do not have the school meal program and will go without food when school is in recess.

Recently the hunger needs in our community have been the catalyst for increased cooperation between CHOW and The Food Bank of the Southern Tier. There was realization that while we were distributing a combined 3 million pounds of food, the needs in our community demanded increased effort. Using statistics generated from Feeding America that are based on the population and poverty demographics in Broome County, we have determined that the current need is nearly 7 million pounds. We are not even meeting half of that.

The board of directors of both organizations realized the situation requires a commitment to a mutual mission of meeting the hunger needs in our area. In October, the Broome County Council of Churches signed an agreement with the Food Bank of the Southern Tier to be a redistribution organization. This will allow us to purchase food at a reduced rate and will assure the Food Bank that we are adopting best practices.

Further, through their national connections to resources, the Food Bank of the Southern Tier will bring with them connections that local organizations, such as our CHOW program, do not have. By utilizing the strengths of both of our organizations, we can begin to connect national resources from the Feeding America Network, with local people in our neighborhoods more efficiently and at lower cost.

It is our hope that increased accountability, cooperation, and transparency will lead us to increased services and more food for hungry people. Next year, we will begin developing a mutually accepted strategic plan for meeting the hunger needs in Broome County. We are excited to see how this partnership will evolve.

The times that we live in demand that we change how we look at hunger. There is no way that we can meet the challenges that we face alone. When we learn to trust we can begin to meet needs in new and surprising ways. We can always do better, together.

Sellepack is the executive director of the Broome County Council of Churches.

Written by
Rev. Joseph Sellepack