Western New York shoppers donated $759,176 to the Food Bank of WNY in this year’s Check Out Hunger drive. The total was the second largest in the campaign’s 22-year history, less than $1,000 below last year’s record of $760,208.
The check-out counter drive is the Food Bank’s largest annual fundraiser, and helps finance the purchase and distribution of food to 326 food pantries and agencies in Erie, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua and Niagara counties.
The drive that just concluded ran from Nov. 24 to March 2, supported by customers of Premier Gourmet, the Premier Group, Price Rite, Dash’s Market, Market in the Square, Tops Friendly Markets and Wegmans Food Markets.
The Lexington Co-Operative is waiting until May to join the drive and it is expected that its contribution will push Check Out Hunger to a new record.
The Food Bank provides approximately 4.4 million meals locally each year. The number of senior citizens utilizing food pantries stocked by the Food Bank has increased 53 percent from last year to a record 13,194, partly due to cuts last spring in the federal SNAP (food stamps) program.
The organization saw a 17 percent increase overall from 2013, serving an average of 116,821 individuals each month. Of those, 43,875 are children and infants.