CAPITAL DISTRICT At the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York, “consistent” is always the word of the day.
“(The demand) stays pretty steady all year long. ….It’s consistent year-round and busiest during the holiday season and sometimes in the summer when kids are out of school,” said Mark Quandt, the executive director of the Food Bank.
Quandt knows the ins and outs of the 62,000-square-foot Food Bank like the back of his hand. He can wander the aisles of the warehouse and point out what everything is, even if it’s hidden within a nondescript cardboard box.
On one wall are preordered boxes, packed with items that agencies request and marked for a specific pick-up day and time.
“We provide food to food pantries, soup kitchens, other organizations across the northeast,” said Quandt.
Further up the towering metal shelves, almost reaching the ceiling, are boxes of food donated by the federal government. Across the aisle are stacks of juice boxes, soda bottles and Capris Sun pouches, and around the corner are more boxes of miscellaneous food (you can never have too much cereal, said Quandt), personal hygiene products, paper products and the occasional can of dog food. Along the dark back wall, not lit by the fluorescent lights, is food the organization purchases with money donations.
“We buy food to supplement what we get in donations. You can never get everything the agencies need in just donations,” said Quandt.
Donated food comes from just about everywhere, from individually-run food drives to businesses. Grocery stores drop off items they can’t sell (it’s called salvage) and as long as the “sell by” date isn’t too old and the inner packaging is intact, it’s fine to distributte.
“We sort through … and if the packaging is still good we can distribute that,” said Quandt. “Instead of it being thrown out, we can use it.”