Two giants in the Westchester fight against hunger announced plans Monday to join forces to improve services and expand their unified reach.
Already approved by their respective boards The Food Bank for Westchester and Westchester Coalition for the Hungry and Homeless will merge their efforts when they receive state approval, expected in 2015.
Under the agreement, the operations of the White Plains-based Coalition will be incorporated into the Food Bank, which is based in Elmsford where it operates a 36,000-square-foot distribution warehouse.
Working together, the two organizations will be able to strengthen their respective missions by operating more efficiently and eliminating redundancies. Together, the Food Bank and the Coalition are the largest providers of service agencies addressing hunger-related issues in Westchester County.
“This merger capitalizes on the strengths of two vital organizations while eliminating overlapping services,” Ellen Lynch, Executive Director of the Food Bank said in a media statement. “The demand for our services is not being met. It is incumbent upon us to implement new distribution models, develop new food and funding sources, and strengthen the distribution network through enhanced volunteer engagement. The merger will enable us to utilize our collective resources more effectively to reach all these goals and to raise awareness of the overwhelming need in our county.”
Jeanne Blum, the Coalition’s Executive Director, will become Director of Strategic Partnerships and Advocacy for the Food Bank.
Both organizations were founded in 1988 and have historically operated on parallel, yet different, tracks.
The Food Bank for Westchester is one of eight regional food banks in New York State and distributes more than 7.4 million pounds of food annually to an estimated 200,000 Westchester residents. It solicits, acquires, warehouses and distributes food to over 265 front-line hunger-relief programs including food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and adult, child-care and treatment centers. As the core of the county’s food collection and emergency distribution network, the Food Bank provides over 95 percent of all the food for these programs. Its distribution center includes the largest freezer in Westchester.
The Coalition advocates for hunger relief, provides financial and technical support to hunger-relief agencies, and is a resource for those seeking help or information regarding poverty issues in Westchester County. It works with autonomous food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and service organizations, and raises money for organizations to build capacity and to purchase food and equipment for their programs.