7 News Special Report: 'The Food Chain'

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Staring down long aisles and looking up at pallets and pallets of food - when you walk in the Food Bank of Central New York, you know right away this isn't your church basement food pantry.

"People think of a food bank like a food pantry, but we are a food distribution agency," said Thomas Slater, the food bank's executive director.

The food bank's 60,000 square foot warehouse in the suburbs of Syracuse is a middle man, which buys and collects food donations from corporations, the U.S. government and supermarkets in the area. 

Then the pantries you know buy from the food bank at cost or collect the free donations. 

"We acquire the food, we warehouse the food and we distribute the food to the program right when they need it," said Slater.

The volume of food in the warehouse is astounding and a necessity.

The food bank serves 268 pantries in 11 counties, including Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence.

The bank spends $12 million a year to provide 10 million meals.

When a pantry puts in an order, food moves in and out of the warehouse with speed. 

Trucks pick up produce, meats and eggs days from their 'sell-by' date at grocery stores.

Then, within a few more days, those perishables are on tables in the north country. 

"Our challenge is to get food from the store to the table and make use of it," said Brian McManus of the food bank.

Now, what about the pantries that buy from the food bank?

We'll show you how the food gets from the warehouse to the table in Part 2 of "The Food Chain" and ask an even more important question - is it enough?

You can see Part 1 on Tuesday at 6, 10 and 11 p.m.

Sunday, November 23, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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