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Food Bank asks customers to give a little extra at grocery checkout to help ease problem of hunger

The Food Bank of Western New York’s biggest fundraising event of the year is in full swing this month at area grocers.

The Check Out Hunger campaign has kicked into high gear at Dash’s Market, the Market in the Square, Tops Markets and Wegmans.

Throughout February, customers will have the option of adding $2, $3 or $5 to their grocery bill at checkout, which will go to the Food Bank.

The organization says 12 meals can be provided for $2, 18 for $3, and 30 for $5.

Marylou Borowiak, the Food Bank’s president and CEO, urged the community to help support the effort.

“While parts of the greater Buffalo area are currently experiencing economic growth, a tremendous need still remains,” she said in a statement. “Clients of the Food Bank include working families struggling to make ends meet, senior citizens on fixed incomes, and individuals burdened with unexpected medical bills.”

Tops Markets’ campaign runs through Feb. 20. The others will run through the end of the month.

Premier Gourmet, Premier Wine & Spirits and Price Rite ran Check Out Hunger campaigns in November and December. Lexington Cooperative Market has its Check Out Hunger campaign scheduled for the spring.

The campaign is a critical source of funding, the Food Bank said, and last year’s campaign raised enough to provide more than 4.5 million meals.

The Food Bank serves more than 41,000 families every month in Erie, Niagara, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties. It distributes food to 326 member agencies, which include food pantries, shelters, soup kitchens, after-school programs and senior citizen centers.