Local service organizations forming FeedMore WNY

FILE PHOTOTwin Cities Meals On Wheels President Karl Bauer makes a delivery to Ronald Ball of North Tonawanda in 2018.

The Food Bank of Western New York, Meals on Wheels for Western New York and the Meals on Wheels Foundation of Western New York are coming together as one.

The groups will become FeedMore WNY in an effort to combat the "root causes of hunger while better reaching underserved populations and more efficiently meeting the needs of the community," officials said in a statement issued Thursday.

The new organization will expand on Meals on Wheels’ and the Food Bank’s existing programs and add services, including children's summer and after-school feeding programs, food pantries for mobile seniors and workforce development training through the establishment of a community kitchen.

The merged organization will continue to serve community members of all ages throughout Niagara, Erie, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties.

The companies are operating under a joint services agreement with a unified CEO, leadership team, staff and board of directors, organization officials said, but the merger will not become official until the New York State Attorney General approves it. The process could take about a year.

Former Food Bank President and CEO Tara A. Ellis has been named president and CEO of FeedMore WNY.

“Both Meals on Wheels and the Food Bank have a longstanding tradition of working together to feed our community,” Ellis said. “After decades of collaboration, coming together was not only a natural evolution, but the best answer to how we could make an even greater impact and touch even more lives.”

Christine Procknal, former president and CEO of Meals on Wheels, will serve as the organization's alliance project director and oversee the transition. FeedMore WNY will employ more than 110 people. No jobs were eliminated as a result of the two organizations combining operations, according to the statement.

The new organization expects to distribute "at least 10 percent more food" to residents of Western New York who are in need over the first five years of its life, in addition to launching "culinary and warehouse training opportunities" in an effort to provide learning environments to interested individuals with "high barriers to employment."

Jerry Sheldon, a past chairman of the Food Bank board who will lead the FeedMore WNY board, said the new organization combines two non-profits that are among the community's "most highly respected."

“Despite their individual successes, our community still has many unmet needs. Our goal is to utilize the strength of this new alliance to attack the root causes of hunger, serve new clients and help fill unmet needs," Sheldon said. "The synergy of the two nonprofits’ missions will serve our community more efficiently and allow for the development of programs, as well as a community kitchen that neither nonprofit could do on its own.”

Richard A. Grimm III, a member of the new organization's executive committee and former Meals on Wheels executive, also praised the announcement.