WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (WENY) – Food Bank of the Southern Tier representatives traveled across the region today to thank grocery stores for their "Check Out Hunger" efforts.

The trip around the Southern Tier by the Food Bank was deemed as the "GratiTOUR", with 16 large checks being presented throughout the course of the day, at a variety of stores from Hornell, to Horseheads, to Johnson City.

I was able to catch up with the tour in Watkins Glen, where an excited group from the food bank made their way inside the Tops location, to surprise the store's manager and cashiers. Each stop was an unexpected one, to recognize the hard work of each employee that made this year's campaign another success.

During an interview the Food Bank's Community Events Planner, Katherine Stawser told me, “We are extremely grateful from the community support. We couldn't do what we do without them.”

“Every donation that they make at the register really does help. One dollar provides three meals. Throughout Check Out Hunger, we just are so grateful. That's why we are doing what we're doing today. To show how grateful we are.”

Watkins Glen Tops Office Manager Kate Serefine is no stranger to the initiative, and has been involved with Check Out Hunger for almost a decade.

She said, “I've actually been with the company for 9 years now. Every year they do it about the same time, and I know that every year they try to up the goal, so that we can raise more money for the food bank, and the people that need it.”

The grand total raised collectively came in at approximately a whopping $274,000, allowing the Food Bank of the Southern Tier to provide hundreds of thousands of meals throughout the region!