Leader of the Pack Challenge takes over Food Bank of the Southern Tier
Elmira Heights, NY (WENY) -- A competition unlike any other was held at Food Bank of the Southern Tier in Elmira Heights. The winner got a trophy but the ultimate prize went to thousands of kids across the southern tier region, who would otherwise go hungry.
Three, two, one, a loud honk is heard, that reverberates through the warehouse of the food bank. It's significance marked a first of it's kind competition, that included having more people in the warehouse than ever before. Over 200 volunteers from over a dozen local businesses packed food boxes. The goal, pack as many bags as possible, the as quickly as possible with the end result being all the food packed going directly to at risk children.
The first "Leader of the Pack Corporate Packing Challenge" kicked off at Food Bank of the Southern Tier. 15 local businesses were vying to pack the most food. Each box representing much needed refurbishment for a risk child, like those who qualify for free or reduced lunches.
“Our business community really does value the importance of giving back and so this was a good way for them to do that.” said Natasha Thompson, the President & CEO of the Food Bank of the Southern Tier.
The idea came from Mengel Metzger Barr & Co. as a way to give back to their community as they celebrate 40 plus years of service in the Elmira area.
“In conjunction with the food bank and our clients, there were so many exciting people here to fill the bags for the backpack program.” said Judy McIntosh, a Partner with Mengel, Metzger, Barr & Co.
The challenge featured over a dozen companies like Watkins Glen International, Wegmans and Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield. Over 200 volunteers in total participated. Within the hour over 10,000 bags were packed. According to Thompson, those bags go to support 250 kids for an entire year through the backpack program. In addition, the event raised donations that will help provide 168,00 meals.
“Tuna fish, chicken, macaroni and cheese, things that are non-perishable and easy to prepare so a good variety of things.” said Thompson of the items included in each bag.
The work of volunteers and event such as these aimed at meal packing is vital for some members of the community. Statistics show more than 39,000 kids in the Southern Tier qualify for free or reduced meals. One in 5 children in the Southern Tier are food insecure. But thanks to the inaugural “Leader of the Pack Corporate Packing Challenge” thousands of the community's kids can eat and it's all thanks to the business community.
“It's a good feeling knowing that you're helping doing what may take hours and weeks doing it in an hour with a number of other people in the community. a good cause.” said Mark Weiermiller, an Elmira Attorney.
“It was myself and 14 of my coworkers and we put a lot of team effort into it. it was hot and competitive but it was a great event.” said Renee Wheeler, an employee at Elmira Savings Bank.
It was a competition with the winner being the less fortunate kids in the area. But ultimately taking top honors was First Heritage Federal Credit Union. They were able to finish packing all their boxes in just over 38 minutes.