The rise in food insecurity in the Columbia County area has been reflected in the strengthening of HRBT Foundation ties to the Regional Food Bank over the past several years. With a one-stop annual cash grant to the Food Bank, the Foundation is able to funnel support to 24 community food pantries, soup kitchens, and emergency shelters across Columbia County.

According to the Regional Food Bank’s annual report to the Foundation, the grant provided funded agencies in Columbia County with 142,850 pounds of food last year, enough for 119,000 meals reaching more than 13,000 people. In 2023, unlike past years, all the Columbia County agencies used their allocated funds during the grant period, rather than some agencies transferring unused funds to more active agencies. The Food Bank regards the lack of reallocation as clear evidence of greater food need in the county overall.

Last year also brought a new CEO to the Food Bank in the person of Tom Nardacci, a well-known Albany businessman, who is tasked with implementing a five-year strategic plan representing a more proactive, community-based approach to hunger relief, including sourcing culturally relevant food for neighbors in need, as meeting dietary needs can also be a barrier to food security.

The HRBT Foundation has funded grants to the Food Bank for over 15 years. While the Regional Food Bank serves a 23-county area, these funds are primarily earmarked for use with local agencies in Columbia County.