It may not cross your mind driving through the county’s posh neighborhoods, but one in five people in Westchester is either hungry, or at risk of hunger. That’s 200,000 people—66,000 of whom are children. And mitigating this still-growing problem—demand for food assistance has risen 66 percent in the last five years—is the Food Bank for Westchester.
Housed in a nondescript building in an Elmsford office park, the Food Bank is the core of the county’s emergency food distribution network—collecting, warehousing, and distributing more than 7.4 million pounds of food annually to a network of more than 265 hunger-relief programs (food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters) throughout the county. Its 37,000-square-foot space allows the Food Bank to accommodate the 14 tons of food it distributes daily. Included in the warehouse is a 2,500-square-foot freezer, which enables the nonprofit to accept large-scale donations of frozen foods. (Before moving to a larger space two years ago, it had to split large donations with other food banks.) The organization’s backbone is its nearly 9,000 annual volunteers who help facilitate the Food Bank’s various programs, such as Project Green Thumb (weekly distribution of fresh fruits and vegetables) and the BackPack Program (bags of food distributed to children).
Eager to see how the Food Bank—and its volunteers—pulls this all off, we went for a tour of the warehouse.