Even as the economy has improved, leaders at local Boys and Girls Clubs say they are feeding more and more hungry families.
“We started off at about 100 meals a day at the Troy Boys and Girls Club, and now we serve roughly 1,200 meals a day," said Patrick Doyle, Troy Boys and Girls Club executive director.
Thanks to a donation from SEFCU, the organization will soon have a new tool in its fight against hunger.
“SEFCU, a multi-billion financial institution, is now in the farming business,” said SEFCU President and CEO Michael Castellana.
Along with more than $300,000 in contributions to Capital Region food pantries, the credit union presented Boys and Girls Clubs with a new freight farm — a hydroponic produce garden housed inside a storage trailer.
“The freight farm really came from frustration. We thought everything must have been better because employment was way up, they said in fact their demand was up by 40 percent," Castellana said.
Without pesticides and using very little water, freight farms are capable of producing more than 700 heads of lettuce a week. SEFCU has had its own for the past year.
"We hope to eventually have 50 of these. We hope that other organizations will see what we are doing because it is a great way for them to support their community as well," Castellana said.
Once the new freight farm is up and running in about two months, Boys and Girls Clubs will not only be able to add the fresh produce to the thousands of meals it serves, but also generate revenue from it.
“We looking to pilot program to not only show them how to grow but also how to maneuver it," Doyle said.
Most of all, they believe it will call attention to the community's growing need.
“Our job is not done until it is done. Our job is to put all of these food pantries out of business because they are not necessary anymore,” Castellana said.