Canstruction Rochester takes over Tower280

Canstruction Rochester’s 10th annual design-build competition officially begins this weekend.

Six local teams will construct giant sculptures made entirely out of canned food with a “Fantasy & Fairy Tales” theme on Saturday, May 20 in the lobby of Tower280 at Midtown (280 E. Broad Street). The exhibit will go on public display starting Sunday.

Presented by Buckingham Properties, Canstruction Rochester benefits our regional food bank, Foodlink, and provides a fun way for local companies, architects, engineers, and students to team build. Since its inception in 2006, the competition has donated more 300,000 pounds of food for local families.

The sculptures will remain up for public viewing through June 2. Viewing the sculptures is free, but guests are encouraged to bring a can of food to donate.

A panel of local judges reviews the sculptures and will present awards in several categories.

Fans of Canstruction Rochester on Facebook can vote for a People’s Choice Award. Winners then go on to compete internationally. For additional event information and photos of past competitions, please visit www.canstructionrochester.com.

Another successful Day of Caring at Foodlink!

Foodlink was once again a host site for the United Way’s annual “Day of Caring” event, a community-wide volunteering effort. 

Foodlink is quite accustomed to handling hundreds of volunteers each week, but that’s not to say organizing more than 100 of them on a single day is a breeze. Volunteers were assigned to our three typical volunteer opportunities — the two food sorting stations and our BackPack Program assembly line. But other volunteers also got their hands dirty by helping us paint and get our urban garden ready ready for the growing season. 

At the Lexington Avenue Urban Farm, volunteers from Paychex, Xerox and Kodak planted veggies (cucumbers, eggplant, sweet potato and more) in our hoop house, and helped set up our drip irrigation system. 

Thank you to those companies, and the others who helped out in our distribution center. They included: Kodak Alaris, Teksystems, M&T Bank, Genesee & Wyoming Railroad Services, Inc., Neilseon, Monroe Co. DHS, Nielson and Harter Secrest. 

Hope to see you soon!

PHOTO ALBUM: View photos from the event on our Facebook page.

 

NY Beef Council urges farmers to give back

This May, the New York Beef Council is leading beef industry awareness month with the return of the “Farm to Food Bank” initiative to combat hunger.

The New York Beef Council, in partnership with Empire Livestock Marketing, Finger Lakes Livestock Exchange, Inc., Hosking Sales, Northern NY Farmer’s Marketing Coop, Inc. and NY Beef Producers Association, are encouraging beef and dairy farmers to donate cattle sale proceeds for the sole purchase of beef to the regional food banks that serve all 62 counties in New York State.

From April 24 through May 31, auction markets throughout the state will assist NYBC in promoting the Farm to Food Bank Initiative. Beef and dairy farmers will have two levels of donations from which to choose, or can designate their own dollar contribution. A single $50 donation can provide meals for 150 people. Each $50 donation will allow the food banks to purchase more than 300 pounds of beef. The donations generated will help ensure more protein will reach families and individuals in need.

In addition to collecting donations, the New York Beef Council will be spreading the message of beef’s role in a healthy diet by providing trainings for food bank staff on how to economically utilize and prepare beef donations. Beef is a high-value protein and often underutilized by low-income families, despite its nutrient-dense value.

Peter Ricardo, Product Donations Manager for the Food Bank of CNY, said: “We continue to be humbled and impressed by the generosity and compassion in our community. We thank you on behalf of the many families and individuals that have a need for our services.”

Find out more at www.nybeef.org. 

Study: Food insecurity rate remains flat in Rochester region

 

While there are slightly less food insecure people in the Rochester area, those who struggle to put food on the table are finding it less affordable to feed themselves and their families, according to a report released Thursday.

Foodlink announced the release of Map the Meal Gap 2017, the latest report by Feeding America® on food insecurity and the cost of food at both the county and congressional district level.

The overall food insecurity rate in Foodlink’s 10-county service area dipped slightly from 12.5 to 12.4 percent in 2015, the most recent year for which data is available. Child food insecurity showed marked improvement by decreasing from 20.9 to 19.4 percent. The study also finds, however, that people currently facing hunger are likely falling further behind as they continue to struggle to buy enough food to meet their needs. Food-insecure individuals in the Rochester area now face a food budget shortfall of $514.25 per person each year, up from $492.92 last year.

MORE: Check out the interactive map

READ: Feeding America explains the annual study

Foodlink serves the counties of Allegany, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming, and Yates. Food insecurity ranged from a low of 10 percent of the population in Ontario County up to 13.2 percent in Monroe County. Overall, 156,530 people, including 52,780 children, are considered food insecure in Foodlink’s 10-county service area. The national food insecurity rate is 13.4 percent.

“While it’s encouraging to see numbers improve in some areas, we know there is plenty of work to be done to assist the more than 150,000 people in our region still struggling to put food on the table,” said Foodlink Executive Director Julia Tedesco. “Our mission is to end hunger. We will continue to serve this community until everyone has reliable access to healthy food.”

Food insecurity is defined as a household’s limited or uncertain access to adequate nutritious food. It is assessed in the annual Current Population Survey (CPS) and represented in USDA food-security reports.

Using data from the CPS, the study finds that nationally, on average, food-secure individuals report spending $2.94 per person, per meal. This is a slight increase from the average of $2.89 as reported in Map the Meal Gap 2016. Locally, that number rose from $2.79 to $2.87 based on Nielsen data that factors in the local cost of food and assigns a “cost-of-food index” to each county. That index rose in 8 of the 10 counties in Foodlink’s service area.

The report also shows that 32 percent of the food insecure population in Foodlink’s 10-county service area has a household income higher than the threshold to qualify for SNAP benefits, formerly known as food stamps. 

“That is particularly troublesome,” Tedesco said. “We all know the benefits of federal nutrition assistance programs such as SNAP, and knowing that one-third of our food insecure clients cannot access this vital program is alarming.”

Map the Meal Gap 2017 uses data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The study is supported by founding sponsor The Howard G. Buffett Foundation, Conagra Brands Foundation and Nielsen.

Foodlink is one of 200 food banks in the Feeding America network that collectively provides food assistance to 46 million Americans struggling with hunger. Last year, Foodlink distributed more than 19 million pounds of food, including more than 5.7 million pounds of fresh produce. It supports approximately 500 member agencies and offers dozens of innovative food access and nutrition education programs.

“It is disheartening to realize that millions of hardworking, low-income Americans are finding it increasingly difficult to feed themselves and their families at the same time that our economy is showing many signs of improvement, including a substantial decline in the number of people who are unemployed,” said Diana Aviv, CEO of Feeding America. “This study underscores the need for strong federal nutrition programs as well of the importance of charitable food assistance programs, especially the food pantries and meal programs served by the Feeding America network of food banks.”

CountyFood insecurity rateEstimated # of food insecure individualsChild food insecurity rateEstimated # of food insecure children
Monroe13.298,83019.131,060
Allegany12.66,07022.82,290
Orleans12.45,25021.81,890
Livingston11.67,54020.32,510
Seneca11.54,03019.51,400
Genesee11.26,65020.32,540
Wyoming11.24,64020.21,670
Yates11.02,78021.11,230
Wayne10.69,81019.64,080
Ontario10.010,93017.74,110
TOTAL12.4156,53019.452,780

A screenshot of the interactive map that details Foodlink’s service area.

Thank you, Carol!

If Music Be the Food Director Carol Rodland accepts a plaque and flowers from Foodlink as an appreciation for eight years of support.

Last night, Foodlink said goodbye (she promises to visit!) and good luck (not like she needs it!) to Carol Rodland of the Eastman School of Music. 

Rodland has accepted a position at the prestigious Juilliard School in New York City and is moving in a matter of weeks. 

She holds a special place in our hearts because she is the founder of If Music Be the Food, a concert series that aims to raise awareness for food insecurity in the Rochester area. Attendees are asked to bring non-perishable items and/or a donation to support Foodlink and are treated to an evening of great music from some of the area’s finest musicians. The event is held three times each year, with St. Paul’s Episcopal Church (October & April) and Third Presbyterian Church (January) serving as the venues. 

Rodland started the event in 2009, and it has since spread to other cities to support other food banks and nonprofit organizations. In eight years, she has rallied the Rochester community to give $25,000 and 7,000 pounds of food to Foodlink!

Foodlink presented Rodland, a violist, with a bouquet of flowers and a plaque to honor her for the work she’s done to support Foodlink during her time in Rochester. 

She says the series will continue under the direction of fellow Eastman professor and cellist Mimi Hwang. The next concert is scheduled for Oct. 22, 2017 at St. Paul’s and Rodland said she was putting in on her calendar so she could make a special guest appearance.

Best of luck with the move, and with your new life in NYC! Rochester will miss you!

A view of the crowd and the church at the April 30 If Music Be the Food concert at St. Paul’s.