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Mobile Food Pantry Program

What is a Mobile Food Pantry?

The Mobile Food Pantry is a truck used to deliver fresh produce, dairy products, and other food and grocery products directly to distribution sites where people need food. When the truck arrives at a site, volunteers place the food on tables surrounding the truck. The clients are then able to “shop”, choosing items that they need.

If you are a current or interested Mobile Food Pantry partner, click here for resources.

Each truck can transport up to 15,000 pounds of food. A typical mobile pantry visit lasts two hours and provides 200 to 250 families with nutritious food to help them make ends meet. The Food Bank partners with local sponsor organizations who provide volunteers to bring the Mobile Food Pantry to a pre-designated site. By sponsoring a mobile pantry distribution, an organization, church or business can directly help their neighbors in need.

Why a Mobile Food Pantry?

The area served by the Food Bank of the Southern Tier spans six counties and nearly 4,000 square miles. Despite serving over 160 hunger-relief member agencies, there remain areas with high levels of need. Even in areas where agencies provide assistance, clients may not always have access to food because agencies are only open certain hours or days per week. In outlying areas, many people do not have cars and there is no public transportation. It’s nearly impossible for them to get to a pantry miles away. They are also not able to incorporate enough fruits and vegetables into their diet because of accessibility and cost.

Want to Become a Partner Site?

For information, contact:
Amanda Palme, Programs & Partnerships Manager
607.796.6061 x4052

The BackPack Program

Filling the Gap So Children Won’t Go Hungry Over Weekends

We believe that no child should ever go hungry. Yet, many children who receive free and reduced priced school meals are left without the nutrition they need on weekends and holiday breaks when school is not in session. By providing children who are at risk of hunger with a bag of nutritious food each Friday throughout the school year, the BackPack Program attempts to reduce this gap and help children return to school on Monday ready to learn.

What is the BackPack Program? Children in the BackPack Program receive packs of nutritious, kid-friendly food on Fridays and before holiday breaks at school. The BackPack program helps ensure that every child returns to school ready to learn. Interested in enrolling your child in the BackPack Program? Please contact the BackPack Coordinator for your school district listed below. If you do not see a coordinator listed, please contact your district directly and ask to speak with the BackPack Coordinator. Every district in the Southern Tier participates in the BackPack Program.

What's in a BackPack?

  • Individually packaged
  • Small and light enough to carry
  • Shelf stable
  • Easy to prepare – even without a stove (or in some cases a can opener)
  • Not going to break (no glass jars)
  • Each pack contains at least 8 items: 2 Proteins, 2 Grains, 2 Dairy & 2 Fruits or Vegetables

You can help. It's as easy as 1-2-3!

  1. Volunteer to help repack donated items into the packs for distribution.
  2. Donate to help sustain the program, or help expand the program to more children.
  3. Host a food drive with your group to collect items from the BackPack Program 

Backpack Champions

In 2016, the BackPack Program™ turned 10! This prompted us to identify and recognize 10 key individuals who helped build the program and make it what it is today. These Champions, along with countless volunteers, school officials, coordinators, and donors, work tirelessly each day to tackle the issue of childhood hunger in the Southern Tier. Click here to learn about each champion.

Kids’ Farmers Markets

What is the Kids’ Farmers Market?
The Kids’ Farmers Market is a no-cost distribution that provides fresh fruits and vegetables to children who are at risk of hunger or food-insecurity and may not have access to produce on a regular basis.

The overall goals of the Kids’ Farmers Market are to:
• Increase children’s exposure to fresh fruits and vegetables thus creating an awareness of the importance of eating these foods.
• Encourage long-term nutritious eating patterns.
• Create new and fun opportunities for learning about fruits and vegetables (including taste tests and recipes).
• Give children the confidence to try unfamiliar foods.
• Promote a better understanding of how gardening/ agriculture produces the healthy foods we eat.
• Provide an opportunity for children to take fruits and vegetables home to share with their families.

The program runs throughout the school year in conjunction with after-school programs, as well as during the summer in partnership with existing summer meal sites. KFM can either be a drop-and-go model, where the Food Bank drops off produce and the event is managed exclusively by the site coordinator, or with Food Bank staff support, most notably the driver.

If you are a current or interested Kids’ Farmers Market partner, click here for resources.


Summer Food Service Program

What is the Summer Food Service Program?

During the school year, many children receive free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch through the National School Breakfast and National School Lunch Programs. The Summer Food Service Program is designed to fill the nutrition gap during the summer when school is not in session and make sure children can get the nutritious meals they need. The Food Bank of the Southern Tier sponsors several Summer Food Service Program sites throughout the Southern Tier.


Click Here to find a Summer Food Site near you

School Food Center Program

What is the School Food Center Program?

School Food Centers are spaces where food and other grocery items can be distributed at no cost within a school, offering a variety of choice and items for students and families to pick and choose what suits their needs. School Food Center partners are onboarded like a pantry with the Food Bank, receive an orientation, and then order their own food. Schools need to provide dedicated space and staff for this initiative, and the Food Bank is able to provide onboarding and ongoing support in the form of grants, trainings, access to cold storage equipment, and more. This model offers students a chance to be involved and learn valuable skills such as ordering, inventory, order picking, and distribution. 

If you are a current or interested School Food Center partner, click here for resources.


Just Say Yes to Fruits and Vegetables (JSY)

Eating vegetables and fruits everyday can reduce the risk of chronic disease and illness, yet many low-income households have a difficult time obtaining and using these foods. Through nutrition workshops and cooking classes, the JSY program serves to empower low-income families in the Food Bank’s six-county service area to choose nutritious foods and create healthy meals for their families. Each workshop provides practical information using USDA-approved lesson plans, recipes, and cooking demonstrations featuring vegetables and fruits.

Healthy Harvest Program

In 2014 the Healthy Harvest program was launched to provide locally-grown fresh fruits and vegetables to our neighbors in need served by the Food Bank of the Southern Tier during harvest season here in the Northeast. The success of the program encouraged the Food Bank to commit to providing as much fresh produce as possible throughout the entire year. While the emphasis remains on working with our local agricultural community as much as possible, we have extended our commitment to fresh fruit and vegetables beyond the local harvest season. The program is supported, in part, by a grant from The Walmart Foundation’s State Giving Program.

The program allows the Food Bank to purchase produce from local farmers, to distribute product while it is fresh and has the highest nutritional value, and to raise awareness among the local farm community of the need for food assistance. The program is expected to yield more than 165,000 pounds of local produce in its first year.

Our Farm Partners

  • Addison Family Farms, Addison, NY
  • Brennan Farm, Avoca, NY
  • North Windsor Berries, Windsor, NY
  • Stoney Ridge Orchard, Erin, NY

The results

  • Investment in local farms supports local, sustainable agriculture economy
  • Increased awareness of the need for food assistance leads to increased produce donations
  • Greater support for the mission of the Food Bank — Working together to build and sustain hunger free communities throughout the Southern Tier.

Click here to download a Healthy Harvest fact sheet

If you are in need of assistance, find a nearby food pantry or meal program near you