Food Bank of the Southern Tier.
Because One Hungry Neighbor
Is ONE Too Many.

Front Sign


History of the Food Bank of the Southern Tier


Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rochester establishes the Southern Tier Office of Social Ministry in Elmira, NY.



Catholic Charities employees Sister Rosaria Hughes and Father Neil Miller establish the Food Bank of the Southern Tier. The Food Bank began with a borrowed truck and operated from a small warehouse on Grand Central Avenue. Food was distributed and stored free of charge to all food pantries. The first Director of the Food Bank was Walter Kronicz and the first driver for the Food Bank was Bernie Stansfield.



The Food Bank Advisory Council is formed. Original members included David Biviano (chair), Bernie and Cis Seiser, Patricia Redman, Lois Cullinan, Reverend Clint Barlow, Bill Ramsdell, Anne DeMember, Jerry Palidino and Roy Farr.



The Food Bank moves to a larger warehouse location on Grand Central Avenue. The year is marked by growth in member agencies, the beginning of budget concerns and the first community appeal through solicitation letters.



The Food Bank’s financial crisis grows. Pantries and programs grow to 131. Food distribution increased to 100,000 pounds per month. There was an appeal to Chemung County for a $7,000 grant. The Food Bank met with its pantries and presented a plan to begin charging a $.10 per pound shared maintenance fee.



The Food Bank endured its first financial crisis and nearly closed its doors. Fund raising efforts intensify with newspaper ads, brochure distribution, car raffles and a direct mail campaign. The Food Bank raised $27,000. The Chemung County Legislature increases support to $17,000. The closing of the Food Bank is averted. The Advisory Committee restructured its Operations, Communications and Fund Raising Committees. Irene Johnson is appointed as the Food Bank’s Executive Director.


The Food Bank enters into a contract with NYS Office of General Services to distribute TEFAP (USDA Commodities). Later that same year, the Food Bank is awarded a contract with NYS Department of Health under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) which later became known as the Hunger Prevention Nutrition Assistance Program (HPNAP). Both programs led to a significant increase in budget, staff and food. The Food Bank’s annual budget was $100,000 and distribution was 1 million pounds.



Community members Bill Shaffer and Ron Pelino search for a permanent home for the Food Bank.



Nellie Monroe’s property on County Route 64 in Big Flats becomes available.



John Farrer is the Food Bank’s Executive Director. SNAP funds are used to purchase a drive-in freezer and truck. Plans are developed for the construction of a new building on County Rte 64.



The Food Bank expands its inventory to include purchased food, supplemented by SNAP funds.



The Food Bank moves to their new building in Big Flats. A day later the roof collapsed on the old building.



The Food Bank employs seven full-time staff with a $750,000 budget and installs a computerized inventory system.



Paul Hesler is hired as the Executive Director of the Food Bank.



In January 2003, the Food Bank was established as a subsidiary of Diocesan Catholic Charities with a separate Board having exclusive focus on the affairs and needs of the Food Bank. Under the leadership of President & CEO Paul Hesler, and Richard Wardell, the first Chairperson of the Board of Directors, the Food Bank took dramatic steps to increase its efforts to end hunger in the Southern Tier.



The Food Bank piloted the BackPack Program in three communities serving 100 kids per week. The BackPack Program is targeted to serve children who are at-risk of hunger by providing a bag of nutritious food each Friday throughout the school year.



The first Mobile Food Pantry Program was launched in July. This program utilizes beverage distribution trucks retrofitted for food banking purposes to deliver fresh produce, dairy and other food and grocery products directly to the consumer in rural areas.  The first two trucks were donated by John Potter and the Seneca Beverage Company.



Natasha Thompson is named President & CEO of the Food Bank. The Food Bank increases its distribution by 30% to 6.7 million pounds to meet growing demand.



The Food Bank’s Board of Directors approves moving ahead with the acquisition and renovation of Seneca Beverage Corporation facility on Upper Oakwood Avenue in Elmira.



The Food Bank celebrates its 30th anniversary by moving into its new building and kicking off its first ever Capital Campaign to raise $5.75M.

Click here to download a Food Bank of the Southern Tier fact sheet.

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388 Upper Oakwood Ave. | Elmira, NY 14903 | 607-796-6061 A regional agency of Catholic Charities and a member of Feeding America