October 13, 2015
CHOW Opens Innovative Wellness Center &
Food Pantry in Binghamton
The South Side Community Wellness Center
Offers a New Take on Helping Families Achieve
Healthy Eating and Healthy Lifestyles
[Binghamton] CHOW opened its innovative South Side Community Wellness Center (SSCWC) this morning in Binghamton with a Ribbon Cutting ceremony that welcomed not only representatives of the community, but also those who donated many days of planning, labor and fundraising to bring the project to fruition.
The new South Side Community Wellness Center will help CHOW (the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse program of the Broome County Council of Churches) to extend the emphasis it has been placing recently on providing a greater proportion of fresh, healthy foods and produce to its clients through its network of now 63 food pantries and community meal sites. By focusing more on providing healthy foods, CHOW is working to help families build healthier eating and cooking habits and achieve better health overall.
Through the SSCWC, CHOW will take this effort one step further, providing not only a food pantry featuring both fresh produce and shelf-stable foods (with extended after-work and weekend hours, to help out working families in need of emergency food assistance), but also offering space for community activities and educational programs, such as nutrition and cooking classes, yoga, etc., that will help families achieve healthier lifestyles and perhaps less overall stress.
The project has been a labor of love and dedication for the nineteen members of the Broome Leadership Institute (BLI) Class of 2015, who adopted the proposed SSCWC as their service project for the year. The BLI Class of 2015 partnered with Broome County Habitat for Humanity to complete the Wellness Center, recognizing that poverty and food shortages were major problems in our communities and wanting to find a way to lessen the burden for area families.
The architectural firm BCK-IBI designed the plans for the facility, while volunteers from Habitat for Humanity took the lead on the actual building of the SSCWC. Members of BLI 2015 assisted with putting up walls and installing the kitchen, along with laying sheet rock, sanding and painting. They also solicited contributions and donations of materials for the project.
“CHOW is so thankful to both BLI and Habitat for Humanity for helping us create a space where the community can access services and training that will help them make healthy lifestyle choices,” said CHOW Director Mike Leahey. “The Center will focus on supporting nutritional, physical, fiscal and emotional wellness, helping to meet the needs of those who live in poverty.”
CHOW will soon be in its 40th year of service to the community. During 2014 CHOW provided approximately 1.2 million lbs.—more than a million meals—of emergency food assistance to Broome County residents.