WESTCHESTER, NY -- The Food Bank for Westchester and the Westchester Coalition for the Hungry and Homeless announced yesterday that they have reached an agreement to merge. The merger has been approved by the boards of each organization and the agreement now goes to the State for approval which is expected later this year.
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. The Food Bank 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.
The two organizations said the consolidation will enable them 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,” said Ellen Lynch, Executive Director of the Food Bank. “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. “The merger gives us a strong unified voice that will help the people we serve,” she said. “Working with our respective boards, we have carefully evaluated the benefits of a merger and concluded that this is the right time for each of our organizations to make the move. We are very excited about the future opportunities the combined organization affords us.”
Both organizations were founded in 1988 and have historically operated on parallel, yet different, tracks. The Food Bank for Westchester solicits, acquires, warehouses and distributes food to over 265 front-line hunger-relief programs across Westchester 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. With the merger, the Food Bank will continue to build on The Coalition’s efforts and successes while also finding opportunities for its volunteers and supporters within the new structure.