It’s time to celebrate National Nutrition Month!

ROCHESTER – It’s time to “put your best fork forward.”

That’s the theme for this year’s celebration of National Nutrition Month, spearheaded by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics throughout the month of March. It’s also a time of year for Foodlink to promote the many ways its nutrition educators help improve the health and wellbeing of the Rochester community.

“Foodlink’s vision is a healthy, hunger-free community,” said Laura Sugarwala, Foodlink’s Senior Manager of Nutrition and Food Safety. “National Nutrition Month is a time for Foodlink and our partners to reinvigorate our commitment to increasing access to healthy foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables. Nutritious food has the power to prevent disease, strengthen our bodies, and transform our lives.”

There are several events planned throughout the month to promote healthy eating, starting March 3 with another Cooking Matters at the Store tour at Price Rite (1230 University Ave.) At various stations around the store, Foodlink educators and other partner organizations teach shoppers about key food groups, how to read nutrition labels and how to shop healthy on a tight budget. MVP Health Care provides key support for the event, which will run between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Another Cooking Matters at the Store event is schedule March 18 at Andre’s Barbershop on Portland Avenue. Check out a full calendar of events, which includes many healthy, delicious recipes, at www.foodlinkny.org.

“Every day, Foodlink’s nutrition educators have the opportunity to go out into the community and empower folks of all ages to make healthier choices,” said Emma Denton, a Just Say Yes to Fruits and Vegetables Educator at Foodlink. “Foodlink’s Cooking Matters, Eat Smart New York, and Just Say Yes to Fruits and Vegetables programs support families and individuals in not only putting their best fork forward but to do so in a way that is affordable, convenient and delicious!”

What makes Foodlink’s new Community Kitchen so great? We asked. They answered.

It has been more than two months since Foodlink’s kitchen staff made the move from Joseph Avenue to its new Community Kitchen on Mt. Read Boulevard. This is a dream come true for the entire organization, but especially for the employees who get to work with the new equipment and space each day. It has completely revolutionized the way we prepare food for this community.

Learn more: About the project and how you can help

Foodlink’s Value-Added Processing Supervisor, Moses Ulom, chatted with a few of his colleagues about the new space and what it has meant for their daily routine. The staff was happy to share their experiences since move-in day in December. Here’s what they had to say:

Josh Orsini, Prep Cook

“The new ovens are amazing; they have definitely enhanced the way we prep meals,” Orsini said. “Imagine cooking 1,600 pieces of chicken in one oven in a small amount of time and still maintaining the right texture and taste. It gives me joy to know the kids are receiving good quality food.”

Prep Cook Josh Orsini.

Andrae Lenear, Production Supervisor

“What I love about the new kitchen is the setup, with regards to the flow of food and staff. The white walls represent everything clean and ready to eat. While the orange walls represent any unwashed products. This system helps the staff to know what hallway to use when transporting ready-to-eat meals or unwashed products. It also shows how serious Foodlink cares about food safety and providing the highest quality of products.”

Production Supervisor Andrae Lenear.

Jarques Fitts, Expediting Supervisor

“The fact I could load up 20 pans in one oven, to me, is a milestone. When it comes to what these ovens can do is beyond description. For example, I could cook, bake, and roast chicken with the same oven and still achieve an incredible outcome. To crown it all, these ovens are self cleaning. That makes my job much easier.”

Expediting Supervisor Jarques Fitts.

Mary Cook, Prep Cook

“What I love most about the kitchen is the three-compartment stainless tables and working space. Having the space and the tables makes it easier for me to set up my work station without interfering with the kitchen traffic. For example, my team and I could lay out all the ingredients, condiments, and pans without running out of space or colliding with each other.”

Prep Cook Mary Cook.

Cornelio Edwards, Prep Cook

“I love using the tilt kettles and pots. I like how they are set up next to each other. We could have four people working on different meals at the same time. We could make more than 1,000 meals in less than 2 hours. This has cut production time in half. So, when it comes to mass production, I would say we are on the right track.”

Prep Cook Cornelio Edwards.

Wegmans collects $1.7M in donations across 5 states for hunger relief

Wegmans on Thursday announced the totals from its various hunger-relief campaigns it organized across five states this fall. 

The campaigns collectively raised $1.74 million dollars, and nearly 40 percent of that total was donated to Foodlink! 

“We’re grateful for our customers and employees who demonstrate a shared commitment to making a difference in our communities by giving so generously during this campaign each year,” Linda Lovejoy, Wegmans community relations manager, said in a statement. “Every dollar counts in the fight against hunger, and we can’t thank our customers and employees enough for helping us reduce the hunger that exists right in our own neighborhoods and communities.”

The campaign is known locally as Check Out Hunger, which raised $680,817 for Foodlink this past October and November. Point-of-sale campaigns were also held in Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Another Check Out Hunger campaign with Tops and other local grocers is underway now. 

In 2016, all Wegmans stores raised a total of $2.88 million for hunger relief through scanning campaigns, and since these programs began in 1993, Wegmans has raised more than $32.5 million. In addition to money raised for emergency food services in 2016, Wegmans also donated approximately 14.5 million pounds of food to local food banks, food pantries, and soup kitchens across all of its market areas.