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The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented disruption throughout our communities, creating new challenges while exacerbating existing issues. The Regional Food Bank of NENY, our region’s largest food bank, is no exception. In mid-March, the Food Bank experienced a 40% increase in its distribution. But with social distancing guidelines and limited space at their main warehouse, the number of volunteers required to process the food has declined significantly.
The Food Bank receives many donations of food that must be sorted and repacked before they can be distributed to food pantries and other agencies; volunteers do the bulk of that work. In an ordinary year, volunteers complete the work equivalent to more than 30 full-time employees, but COVID-19 has forced group sizes to decrease by nearly 70%, resulting in a backlog of product that cannot get to people who need it.
In mid-March, the Food Bank and commercial realtor CBRE Albany began a search for additional temporary warehouse space so volunteers could safely sort donated goods while observing COVID-19 social distancing guidelines. CBRE, in turn, notified The Rosenblum Companies about this pressing need. The timing turned out to be auspicious; in February, we purchased a vacant warehouse at 6 Northway Lane in Latham, NY, which is located only four miles from the Food Bank’s main warehouse. Recognizing that the Food Bank’s services are not only essential but in higher demand than ever, our team decided to donate the use of 6 Northway for the next few months.
“The relationship with the Regional Food Bank has been one of our company’s most enduring and treasured community partnerships, but we feel particularly fortunate for the ability to place one of our properties into direct service of their critical work during these unusually challenging times,” said Seth Rosenblum, CEO of The Rosenblum Companies. “I especially want to thank our expert property management team, as well as AE Rosen and Pengate, who all went above and beyond without hesitation to ready the building for this special purpose.
“We had a simple idea of renting off-site warehouse space to relieve the many problems we currently have sorting and repacking food in our own facility,” said Mark Quandt, Executive Director of the Food Bank. We started with one phone call explaining our need and have been overwhelmed with the response. These wonderful donors are thanking us for the opportunity to help. We are very grateful for their generosity and look forward to expanding our volunteer program at the new facility. Also, we want to thank in advance all the volunteers who will be assisting us at that site. We couldn’t do our work without them.”
The new warehouse space will be ready for volunteers on April 21st. It will be open every Tuesday through Friday with shifts from 9:30-12:00 and 12:30-3:00 for ages 6 to 69.
The Food Bank continues to need financial support. Contributions can be mailed to the Regional Food Bank at 965 Albany Shaker Rd., Latham, NY 12110, or made online at www.regionalfoodbank.net. People in need of food assistance can find help through the Find Food tab on the Food Bank’s website. Other offers of support or questions can be directed to 518-786-3691 x221 or email@example.com.
Coverage of the 6 Northway Lane donation in the media:
“Regional Food Bank seeking volunteers, opens new warehouse to feed the Capital Region” CBS6 WRGB
“Businesses volunteer space, equipment to Food Bank” Times Union
“The Rosenblum Companies and Pengate Handling Systems Donate Warehouse Space and Equipment to Regional Food Bank During Pandemic” Capital Region Chamber