Food bank enlists fleet of Kenworths to serve needy

Food bank enlists fleet of Kenworths to serve needy

Hunger in the United States is a daunting problem—more than 42 million live in food “insecure” households. That means about 13% of households have trouble putting food on the table, and nearly half of those experience severe need.

Making a difference in the state of New York is the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York, based in Latham. It’s part of the Feeding America Network, which consists of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries nationwide. The network provides food to one in seven Americans.

In 2016, the Regional Food Bank distributed more than 36 million pounds of food to more than 1,000 agencies in 23 New York counties. That’s up from 35 million pounds in 2015.

“The need doesn’t go away, and the need is great,” said Mark Quandt, who has been executive of the food bank since 1984. “We currently operate six Class 8 tractors, five of which are Kenworths, and 16 Class 7 straight trucks—the latest being Kenworth T370s. We cover 41% of the landmass in New York.”

These Kenworth trucks were purchased through Kenworth Northeast Group–Albany.

Heading the transportation department is Shane Clute, who has been with the food bank for 23 years.

“Reliable trucks are vital to our operation,” said Clute. “The straight trucks (24- to 28-foot boxes with reefer units) go out to eight to 12 supermarkets each day, all within a 70-mile radius of our distribution centers. Once the donated food is collected and brought back, volunteers sort through the food and log what’s available on our website.”

According to Quandt, agencies working with the food bank can range from food pantries to homeless shelters, to food programs for kids and the elderly.

“Our inventory of food is listed, then agencies can place orders off the website and either come pick it up if they’re within a 45-mile radius, or meet us at designated locations,” he said.

Those locations can be up to 200 miles to the north, 120 miles to the south, or 60 miles to the west.

“Once orders are placed, we’ll put the food parcels in trailers and our Class 8 Kenworths will take them to a central location,” said Clute. “There, the agencies will come and pick up their orders—some of the larger agencies might take up to eight pallets of food.”

Once the trailer is empty, the return trip often includes stops at farms or other locations where donated produce and vegetables are loaded and brought back to the food bank’s main distribution center—a 62,000-square-foot building in Latham—or the food bank’s 55,000-sq-ft warehouse in Orange County.

Before working with Kenworth, Clute said the food bank used various truck makes and models.

“But we didn’t have much success since breakdowns were frequent,” he said. “We tried our first Kenworth in 2009; we loved that truck from day one. That led us to purchasing the Kenworth T370s. I’m a driver too, and I like the ride and handle of the trucks. They’re very comfortable, and they’ve been very reliable—we plan to hold on to the trucks for about 10 years before replacement.”

The Kenworth T370s are spec’d with the Paccar PX-7 rated at 300 hp, and driven with Allison automatics. They also feature locking differentials to ensure better traction in icy conditions.

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