MOUNT KISCO, N.Y. -- Nearly 200 members of the community, staff, volunteers, corporate donors and service providers celebrated The Food Bank for Westchester’s 9th annual Hunger Heroes awards at the Tappan Hill Mansion, recognizing select organizations and individuals for their outstanding efforts to end hunger.
The Boys & Girls Club of Northern Westchester (BGCNW), based in Mount Kisco, was among those honored, receiving the 2014 Service Provider Hunger Heroes Award for integrating three key food programs for its youth members. Brian Skanes, executive director of the BGCNW, accepted the award on behalf of the Club. “I share this award with the Junior League of Northern Westchester,” Skanes said. “We have a tremendous relationship dating back many, many years.” With the help of the Junior League, The Food Bank for Westchester, and generous donors, the Club is able to operate three nutritious food programs in an effort to eliminate food insecurity: The Backpack program, The Food Bank for Westchester Kraft Mobile Food Pantry, and Kids Café. The BGCNW serves 1,700 youth annually – 80 percent of which are eligible for free or reduced school lunch. To meet the need for a quality meal program outside school walls, Skanes embarked on a year-long effort to raise money to install an industrial kitchen at the Club. Today, an average of 200 children per day and as many as 350 daily during the summer months are fed through Kids Café.
The BGCNW has also implemented the Backpack program, which provides children with easy-to-prepare food on weekends. Skanes’ focus on quality food programs later extended to the entire community in 2013, when the Food Bank’s Kraft Mobile Food Pantry began distributing fresh food to the Club’s community residents. Currently, more than 80 families are assisted by the mobile pantry. “Brian recognized the importance of consistent high-quality meal programs for the children in his care,” said former Junior League of Northern Westchester President Danae Richards, who presented Skanes with the service provider award. “With Brian’s efforts to address the hunger issue and crusading for the reduction of childhood obesity, the Boys & Girls Club has truly transformed the health and well-being of its Club’s members and the community.” According to Ellen Lynch, executive director of The Food Bank for Westchester, 33 percent of those who are hungry or at risk of being hungry are children. “I think about when this started,” Skanes said. “There were several hundred kids coming to the Club every day and not getting home until 8 o’clock at night, who weren’t eating. Our board of directors committed themselves to raising money to build a kitchen and it grew from there.” “I really appreciate this award and on behalf of the club – thank you,” Skanes said. The Boys & Girls Club of Northern Westchester is at 351 Main St., Mount Kisco. Call 914-666-8069 or visit www.bgcnw.com.