ELMSFORD, N.Y. A Westchester food bank says it is better equipped to handle a growing demand for food with its sparkling new warehouse.
The Food Bank for Westchester celebrated the opening of its warehouse at 200 Clearbrook Road on Thursday. The building is twice the size of the food bank's former home in Millwood. Officials say moving to the 37,000-square-foot warehouse was needed to help the food bank better serve thousands of Westchesters needy families.
We needed to get more food out to people we know are hungry, and we couldnt do it in the smaller space, said Jeanne Wilcox, the agency's communications director.
Westchester County has seen the need for emergency food reach unprecedented levels, jumping 45 percent over the past three years, Wilcox said.
She estimated that 200,000 county residents are hungry or dont know where their next meal will come from.
But the food banks ability to help was hampered by the 15,000-square-foot Millwood facility it had called home since 1993. The space reached its capacity over a decade ago, and workers were tripping over the piled boxes of food in the warehouse, Wilcox said.
We knew we were not meeting the need and not getting enough food out, she said.
In August 2011, Eastchester philanthropist Patricia Lanza offered a $750,000 matching grant to help the food bank find a new home.
By January, the center had raised the rest of the $2.2 million needed to renovate and equip the facility in Elmsford. Since then workers have been preparing the center and stocking the shelves with boxes of food and groceries.
Wilcox estimates the food bank will distribute 10 million to 17 million pounds of food per year in the space, a big improvement from the old facility.
And it will be able to distribute things like pet food, something that wasnt available from the Millwood space.
Now the shelves are filled and were ready to get the food out there, Wilcox said.