Food Bank for Westchester—located in a 34,000-square-foot warehouse in Elmsford—is impressive in its own standing: eye-catching, high-ceilinged, and home to the largest refrigerator and freezer in the county. The organization’s network, however, reaches much further, highlighted at their Go Orange to End Hunger campaign launch on September 4.
In recognition of September as Hunger Action Month, a nationwide movement organized by Feeding America, the event called together staff and supporters of the Food Bank. Attendees were decked out in various shades of orange and shouted a unanimous goal to “end hunger.”
The campaign’s main objective is to raise awareness, to “get the message out and say, ‘no, we’re not kidding—this is really happening and people are hungry,’” according to the Food Bank’s Donor Relations Manager, Lucy Harrington. She added that she hopes the social media initiatives, such as posting and tweeting the movement’s hashtags (@foodbankforwestchester, #hungeraction, @feedingamerica, #FB4W, #goorange), sharing photos via Facebook and Twitter, and wearing orange, will help to “generate momentum” for the cause.
In an area such as Westchester, whose reputation of wealth can minimize alertness to the poverty that exists here, awareness is key. Multiple speakers noted that people often don’t realize the numbers involved; 200,000 Westchester residents are hungry or at-risk of being hungry, with one third of that figure children under the age of eighteen and 22% seniors over the age of sixty.
Food Bank for Westchester works with 265 programs to annually distribute more than 7.2 million pounds of food. As volunteers run the majority of these agencies, the Food Bank’s role becomes increasingly crucial in organizing, storing and serving as “a central magnet for food donations,” said Harrington.
In attendance was New York State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who thanked the Food Bank for thinking of the hungry “every day, without the spotlight, without the glow of the holidays.” Stewart-Cousins, decked out in orange, concluded her speech with a vision larger than just Westchester.
“Please remember our neighbors can be helped by very small acts of kindness. And hopefully we will beat hunger, not only here in the county but in our nation and in the world,” Stewart-Cousins said.
The Food Bank’s spirit felt full at the event’s close, as its powerful and brightly clad group smiled wide and took photos amid mile-highshelves of food. “We really have a role that we are growing into more and more,” Harrington said. “Not only just distributing [food], but doing it thoughtfully so we can try to strengthen this network.”
To learn more about food banks in Westchester, read the behind the scenes from our July issue here.