The fall season always reminds me that we live in one of the most beautiful parts of the country. I love driving into work each morning along country roads framed by rolling hills, farmland, and quaint small towns. This time of year, when the trees are ablaze with brightly colored leaves that reflect off the surface of our magnificent Finger Lakes, it can be easy to forget that hunger lives here, too.
Hunger is often hidden, up in the hills, the trailer parks or the forgotten parts of town where the factories used to be. In the Southern Tier region, an estimated 15 percent of the total population and nearly half of school aged children struggle with hunger. This is why we are always working to educate the general public about the issue of hunger and food insecurity, especially during Hunger Action Month in September.
Each year, we join other Feeding America food banks across the country to raise awareness about hunger and encourage people to take action throughout the month. The level of support we saw this year was truly incredible.
Wegmans’ Fill the Bus food donation drive kicked off Hunger Action Month and brought in over 135,000 lbs of kid friendly food for our BackPack program, a 73 percent increase over last year, and nearly half of the food we need to support the program for an entire school year.
Our Leader of the Pack corporate challenge, presented by Mengel Metzger Barr, drew 15 teams with over 200 people competing to pack more than 10,000 bags for our BackPack Program. The event raised donations for our hunger relief programs and generated so much good will.
Finally, we were honored to host NYS Agriculture & Markets Commissioner Richard Ball at our facility along with several of our local elected officials including Assemblywoman Donna
Lupardo, Chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee. We are fortunate to have the support of our local farmers and growers who have contributed generously to our work over the years.
My team and I are reminded each day that hunger lives here in the Southern Tier and impacts so many of our neighbors, including children. But the support we receive from this generous community gives us hope and feeds our commitment to continue to do this important work.
Natasha R. Thompson
President & CEO