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Food Bank of CNY undergoing major expansion of distribution center

The Food Bank of CNY is undergoing a 34,000 square foot expansion of its distribution center.
Ellen Abbott
The Food Bank of CNY is undergoing a 34,000 square foot expansion of its distribution center.

The Food Bank of Central New York is in the midst of a major expansion of its distribution center. It comes as food insecurity continues to increase in central New York.

There was an 11% increase in the need for food pantry items in numbers for a one-year period ending August 1. Food Bank CEO Karen Belcher said it’s been especially bad since pandemic-era supports were lifted earlier this year. But that’s not the only issue.

"There's not affordable housing, not affordable daycare, daycares are closing. There's been a lot of impact from the pandemic that is still impacting families,” said Belcher. “These benefits are going, but some of our population are seniors. So these are individuals on fixed incomes that don't see that raise possibly in a year. And we all know, prices are going up."

The nearly 34,000-foot expansion will allow for more office, storage and volunteer space, along with a bigger, safer area for volunteers to pack food boxes.

"Currently we pack a couple of times during the week, maybe four volunteer packings,” Belcher said. “We're going to be able to have at least two shifts a day of 10 to 12 people, which when we annualize that in the boxes it's 80,000 more boxes."

This $8 million project will keep up with demand for the next 5-10 years, but Belcher said after that, it’s time to take a deeper look at the issue.

"How do we advocate for some system changes? We've got to look at what's causing individuals to be food insecure and how do we start to look at that, and how do we advocate for some change because our goal is to work ourselves out of a job or at least reduce the work that we're doing,” she said.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.