Working together to build and sustain
hunger-free communities
throughout the Southern Tier.

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History of the Food Bank of the Southern Tier


Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rochester establishes the Southern Tier Office of Social Ministry in Elmira, NY.



Catholic Charities employees Sister Rosaria Hughes and Father Neil Miller establish the Food Bank of the Southern Tier. The Food Bank begins with a borrowed truck and operates from a small warehouse on Grand Central Avenue. Food is distributed and stored free of charge to all food pantries. The first Director of the Food Bank is Walter Kronicz and the first driver for the Food Bank is Bernie Stansfield.



The Food Bank Advisory Council is formed. Original members included David Biviano (chair), Bernie and Cis Seiser, Patricia Redman, Lois Cullinan, Reverend Clint Barlow, Bill Ramsdell, Anne DeMember, Jerry Palidino and Roy Farr.



The Food Bank moves to a larger warehouse location on Grand Central Avenue. The year is marked by growth in member agencies, and the first community appeal through solicitation letters. However, budget concerns arise.


The Food Bank’s budget issues grow. Food pantries and programs expand to more than 130. Food distribution increased to 100,000 pounds per month. An appeal to Chemung County for a $7,000 grant is made The Food Bank meets with its pantry partners and presents a plan to begin charging a $0.10 per pound shared maintenance fee to cover the cost of transportation and handling.



The Food Bank endures its first financial crisis and nearly closed its doors. Marketing and fund raising efforts intensify with newspaper ads, brochure distribution, car raffles and a direct mail campaign. The Food Bank raises $27,000. The Chemung County Legislature increases support to $17,000. The closing of the Food Bank is averted. The Advisory Committee restructured its operations, communications and fund raising committees. Irene Johnson is appointed as the Food Bank’s executive director.


The Food Bank enters into a contract with NYS Office of General Services to distribute TEFAP (USDA Commodities). The Food Bank is awarded a contract with NYS Department of Health under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) which later became known as the Hunger Prevention Nutrition Assistance Program (HPNAP). Both programs led to a significant increase in budget, staff and food. The Food Bank’s annual budget is $100,000 and food distribution is one million pounds.



Community members Bill Shaffer and Ron Pelino search for a permanent home for the Food Bank.



Nellie Monroe’s property on County Route 64 in Big Flats becomes available.



John Farrer is the Food Bank’s Executive Director. SNAP funds are used to purchase a drive-in freezer and truck. Plans are developed for the construction of a new building on County Rte 64.



The Food Bank expands its inventory to include purchased food, supplemented by SNAP funds.



The Food Bank moves to their new building in Big Flats. A day later the roof collapsed on the old building.



The Food Bank employs seven full-time staff with a $750,000 budget and installs a computerized inventory system.



Paul Hesler is hired as the Executive Director of the Food Bank.



In January 2003, the Food Bank is established as a subsidiary of Diocesan Catholic Charities with a separate board having exclusive focus on the affairs and needs of the Food Bank. Under the leadership of President & CEO Paul Hesler, and Richard Wardell, the first chairperson of the Board of Directors, the Food Bank take dramatic steps to increase its efforts to end hunger in the Southern Tier.



The Food Bank piloted the BackPack Program in three communities serving 100 kids per week. The BackPack Program is targeted to serve children at-risk of hunger by providing a bag of nutritious food each Friday throughout the school year.


The Food Bank facilities committee is appointed to study options for more space.



The first Mobile Food Pantry Program was launched in July. This program utilizes beverage distribution trucks retrofitted for food banking purposes to deliver fresh produce, dairy and other food and grocery products directly to the consumer in rural areas. The first two trucks were donated by John Potter and the Seneca Beverage Company.



Natasha Thompson is named President & CEO of the Food Bank. The Food Bank increases its food distribution by 30% to 6.7 million pounds to meet growing demand.



John Potter, owner of Seneca Beverage Corporation, approaches the Food Bank about buying his 65,000 square foot warehouse building in Elmira. The Corning Incorporated Foundation pledges $500,000 to the building campaign.



The Food Bank’s Board of Directors approves moving ahead with the acquisition and renovation of Seneca Beverage Corporation facility on Upper Oakwood Avenue in Elmira. The Wegman Family Charitable Foundation pledges $300,000 to the building campaign. The Food Bank board votes to undertake its first ever capital campaign with a goal of $5.75 million.



The Food Bank celebrates its 30th anniversary by moving into its new facility at 388 Upper Oakwood Avenue. A kickoff of the public phase of the campaign is held in the new facility.


Gifts and pledges to the capital campaign reach $4.89 million.



The capital campaign goal is exceeded with total gifts and pledges reaching $5.82 million! The Food Bank distributes over 9.7 million pounds of food. The BackPack Program serves 2,075 children at risk of hunger with a weekly bag of food to take home over weekends and holiday breaks. The Mobile Food Pantry trucks distribute over 3.4 million pounds of food to people in need at 655 distributions. More than 8,000 volunteers contribute 47,508 hours to help the Food Bank fight hunger.

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388 Upper Oakwood Ave. | Elmira, NY 14903 | 607-796-6061 A regional agency of Catholic Charities and a member of Feeding America