SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The Food Bank of Central New York has been serving communities for years. The executive director for the food bank says they’ve been busier since the pandemic started.

Karen Belcher said they serve 178,000 New Yorkers across eleven counties. “We saw our pounds went up from 15.6 million to 22 million in our fiscal year, so a 44% increase in need in our eleven county service area.”

Belcher said they needed to find a way to get to the communities that couldn’t get to them, so they decided to add more stops each month with their mobile food pantry truck. One of their stops travels all the way out to Utica at Gilmore Village.

Ismeta Selimovic is the mother of two who lives in Gilmore Village. Every time the truck stops, she’s there. “It’s a relief. it’s a relief and to like see the looks on the kid’s faces, it’s amazing!” she said.

Robert Cooney has been volunteering for the food bank for almost a year, and its been rewarding. “I’m lucky, I’m lucky. I’ve had a great life and it’s my opportunity to give back.”

He said he’s had some of the best experiences. “Truck pulls up, a pickup truck and a little girl is sitting in the back seat, and she’s just like there’s my food, there’s my food, and you know it’s just stuff like that.”

To donate or volunteer.