SEFCU pledges $100,000 to Albany weekend backpack program

625 elementary and middle school children to participate

ALBANY, N.Y (October 5, 2017) — Today, Homeless and Travelers’ Aid Society (HATAS) Executive Director Liz Hitt announced the start of the 2017-2018 Feed and Read (FAR) program in support of children in the city of Albany Public Schools.  Formerly known as the Albany Weekend Backpack Food Program, this year’s program will benefit 625 elementary and middle school children by providing 12 pounds of food to them every Friday afternoon during the academic year.  In addition to the food, they will receive a gift card redeemable for milk and, beginning this year, an age-appropriate book will be included as a way for the program to feed the children’s minds as well as providing food for their bodies.  Including milk every week and adding an age appropriate book makes the Albany FAR program unique.

SEFCU, one of the largest credit unions in upstate New York, has pledged $100,000 over three years. “Three years ago, SEFCU was one of HATAS’ first partners in bringing backpacks full of food to hungry children in the Albany City Schools,” said Michael J. Castellana, SEFCU president and CEO. “While this year’s program will help more children than ever, I urge community leaders to join us in finding a long-term solution to food insecurity. Success isn’t increasing the number of participants each year. Success is no longer needing this program.”

“The Feed and Read Program continues to help more than 600 elementary and middle school students throughout our city by reducing food insecurity and encouraging reading,” said Mayor Kathy Sheehan.  “Thank you to HATAS, SEFCU, CDPHP, Albany City Schools, and the Albany Promise for supporting this program year after year.”

“As a physician-guided health plan, CDPHP is dedicated to the health and wellness of children and families,” said Victoria Carosella Baecker, CDPHP director, community relations and corporate events. “CDPHP is proud to make a multi-year commitment to the HATAS backpack program. Our contribution, along with that of SEFCU and other community partners, will contribute to Albany school children’s healthy growth, energy, and, ultimately, positive school performance.”

The Feed and Read program emerged from a workshop sponsored by the Albany Promise in 2014 and has since grown to become one of the largest weekend food programs in the Capital District.  It is the only weekend food program to provide books to its participants and the only program to include a milk card every week, rather than every other week, as is typical in these programs. In addition to SEFCU’s donation, CDPHP is donating $60,000 over three years, the City of Albany, $25,000 total, and another $40,302 was raised through private donations, foundations, and other businesses.


Established in 1934, today SEFCU is among the 50 largest credit unions in the U.S. with more than $3.3 billion in assets, more than 350,000 members, and 47 branches in the Capital Region, Binghamton, Syracuse, and Buffalo. In addition to full service retail and commercial banking products and services, SEFCU is committed to supporting the community through the donation of time and talent of its staff and members, as well as monetary contributions to help people and make an impact in the communities it serves.  Find us on Facebook® and follow us on Twitter®


Nicole Stein

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