11/05/12: County Volunteer Effort Produces Bounty at Food Bank of WNY

Modified: January 22, 2015 1:11pm

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Multi-Year Volunteer Involvement in Garden Project Results in Cornucopia of Produce

ERIE COUNTY, NY— Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz today praised the efforts of County volunteers from the Department of Social Services (“DSS”) who have been participating in the Food Bank of Western New York’s “Garden Project” for the past eight years. The Project brings together volunteers of all ages and backgrounds to learn more about gardening while producing vegetables and fruit that helps to feed the less fortunate; over the eight years that DSS has been involved, the team has donated over 2,700 volunteer hours and has planted, tended, harvested, and donated over 4,000 pounds of fresh organic produce to the Food Bank.

“In this season of Thanksgiving, I want to thank all the volunteers who gave of their time and talent to produce this harvest for the Food Bank of WNY,” said Poloncarz. “Thanks to their efforts, over 2 tons of produce has been donated to the people who need it most. Along with the many other volunteers involved in the Garden Project, they represent a true caring spirit that should be recognized and celebrated.”

Initially begun as a project for the Food Stamp (“SNAP”) division of DSS, the volunteer spirit has spread over the Department’s eight years of involvement in the Project to include representatives from the divisions of  Medicaid, Temporary Assistance, Special Investigations, Child Protection Services, Third Party Health Insurance, and the Community Alternative Systems Agency. Both current and retired members of the department are active in the Project.

The Garden Project includes an educational component as well as a nutritional benefit, working cooperatively with low-income families who learn to grow their own food while having the opportunity to participate in classes focusing on improving nutrition. Classes cover ways to get the most from produce, recipes to encourage cooking more from scratch and less from prepared foods, and other ways to maximize the benefits of the garden.

The Project features 22 raised garden beds, each of which is maintained by a group of volunteers who commit to caring for the bed for an entire growing season, planting, tending, and harvesting a vegetable or fruit of their choice. All produce is donated to local food pantries or used in the nutrition education programs at the Food bank. The Food Bank provides all supplies necessary to get volunteer teams through the growing season.

For more information on the Erie County Department of Social Services, visit  http://www2.erie.gov/socialservices/

For more information on the Food Bank of WNY, visit    http://www.foodbankwny.org/