Our new vision

For much of the past year, Foodlink has dedicated a considerable amount of time to updating its Strategic Plan. 

Our board of directors officially adopted the new plan in July, paving the way for an exciting array of innovative objectives and lofty goals in the years ahead. One of the more public-facing changes is the adoption of a revised mission and vision. While our mission’s language was tweaked ever so slightly, our vision was completely overhauled. Formerly, we touted a succinct vision of “a healthy, hunger-free community.”

Take a look at the revised versions below. We hope you like what you read! 

Our Mission

Our mission is to leverage the power of food to end hunger and build healthier communities.

Our Vision

We believe that the fight against hunger and the fight against poverty are one and the same. We envision a future in which food is recognized as a human right and every person is able to feed themselves and their families in dignity. Together, we work to create a more nourished, prosperous region. 

Celebrate Rochester Burger Week and support Foodlink!

We’re in the middle of Rochester Burger Week (July 20-28), which means the simple act of ordering a burger means you’ll be supporting Foodlink and its numerous food-related programs!

Here’s how it works:

  • Visit RochesterBurgerWeek.com to find out which restaurants are participating.
  • Go to the restaurant and order the burger.
  • Eat the burger
  • $1 from each burger sold throughout the week is donated to Foodlink!

It’s that simple!

There are some tasty looking burgers out there from heavy hitters such as Char, The Gate House, Tap & Mallet, Nox and more. 

Foodlink staff members did their part on Wednesday when we stopped by Marshall Street for lunch!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to our new SOOP interns!

SOOP interns learn knife skills in their first Cooking Matters course July 13 at Foodlink.

***

There’s an uptick in foot traffic at Foodlink these days. 

On Monday, we welcomed the addition of 20 new Summer of Opportunity Program (SOOP) teens, who will be working with us throughout the summer. The City of Rochester program is designed to give employment and training opportunities to youth. Foodlink serves as a host site each year. 

These “Community Food Interns” came to Foodlink through a more competitive placement process than usual, and will help us with our various programs in July and August. They will assist our Curbside Market drivers, work in the distribution center, take a Cooking Matters course — all in the name in helping Foodlink build a healthier community. 

Welcome to Foodlink!

On their first day, SOOP interns learn about how to work at the Curbside Market, with Ray Mahar, one of our drivers.

Mobile Summer Meals site schedule

 

Each summer, Foodlink and other community partners collaborate to offer Summer Food Service Program meals (known as Summer Meals) to all children in the City of Rochester. Foodlink and the Rochester City School District serve as the main vendors, while the City of Rochester, Common Ground Health and the Rochester Area Community Foundation offer additional support to help feed some of our region’s most food-insecure children. 

A recent report helps illustrate the need that rises when school lets out and parents must account for two extra meals, per child, per day. According to survey data, many Rochester children live in communities with food-insecurity rates between 30% and 40%

Although there are approximately 70 sites that are open to the public throughout the city, some kids still have trouble accessing a Summer Meals site. Foodlink’s Mobile Summer Meals initiative helps bridge that gap for many parents. Through support from RACF, and through a generous grant from the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation, we were able to purchase a new vehicle (pictured below — thanks Bob Johnson Chevrolet for your great service!) to help transport more nutritious meals to locations without a nearby Summer Meals site. 

Additionally, Summer Meals will move beyond the city limits for the first time. Through a grant from the United Way of Wayne County, we are piloting sites in rural communities this summer. One site in Williamson has been confirmed, and a few others may follow. We will update the list above with any charges, as necessary. 

Our statement on immigrants, refugees, and why we care

Wednesday, June 20 was World Refugee Day, a day to “commemorate the strength, courage and perseverance” (http://www.un.org/en/events/refugeeday/) of the approximately 68.5 million forcibly displaced people around the world. It comes at a time when refugees and immigrants are facing increasing hostility from the federal government and nationalist administrations all over the world. The horrors of family separation at the US-Mexico border are only the latest installment.

Our neighbors who are refugees, immigrants and New Americans enrich and support Foodlink’s programs in so many ways. Food is our common language and shared mission. Students from Rochester International Academy grow over 5,000 vegetable and flower seedlings a year for Lexington Avenue Urban Farm, which nearly 60 refugee families have transformed into the largest and most productive community garden in Rochester. We are also privileged to work with refugee youth and families through Education Success Foundation’s Neighborhood Arts program in nutrition classes and a new community and teaching garden. Many of our member agencies, like Mary’s Place LLC, serve these communities as well. And we should not forget that much of the 19 million pounds of food that Foodlink distributes each year was grown and prepared by immigrants.

Refugees and immigrants represent the best of the American dream, and deserve the opportunity to build safe, healthy and happy lives for their families. At Foodlink, we believe that our communities are strongest and most vibrant when we accept and welcome all people.

We stand with our refugee and immigrant brothers, sisters and siblings and oppose any inhumane and immoral policies targeting their communities. These include, but are not limited to, family separation and the proposed indefinite family detention that may replace it, the elimination of domestic and gang violence as grounds for asylum, the multiple revocations of temporary protected status for those fleeing natural disaster and the overall reduction of the number of refugees accepted into this country. We encourage you to call your elected officials (Dial 1.888.398.8702 to connect with your representative’s office) and voice your opposition to these policies, and your support for those coming to this country to seek a better future.

Sources:

http://www.unhcr.org/en-us/figures-at-a-glance.html

https://www.npr.org/2018/06/20/622095441/trump-executive-order-on-family-separation-what-it-does-and-doesnt-do

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/11/us/politics/sessions-domestic-violence-asylum.html

https://www.nationalreview.com/news/hounduran-immigrants-trump-administration-revokes-protected-status/

https://immigrationforum.org/article/fact-sheet-u-s-refugee-resettlement/

New food insecurity data show level of need in Rochester, other communities

 

Newly released food insecurity statistics illustrate an overwhelming level of need within the City of Rochester, where many residents live in a household that struggles to feed everyone enough nutritious food.

Feeding America’s annual Map the Meal Gap report¹, which studies food insecurity across the country, publishes its findings each spring and distributes it to all member food banks. The data, culled from 2016 — the most recent year available — is presented by county, Congressional district, and by each food bank’s service area. For example, the overall food-insecurity rate for Foodlink’s 10-county region is 11.7 percent (147,420 people), and the child food insecurity rate in that same region is 18.3% (48,960 children).

Foodlink, with support from Common Ground Health, sought sub-county data this year for the first time to better understand the needs of various communities, particularly the City of Rochester. The elevated need in large cities such as Rochester, and smaller cities such as Geneva and Batavia, were often masked behind county-level statistics for Monroe, Ontario and Genesee counties, respectively.   

More from Common Ground Health: The food and health connection

Feeding America: The Map the Meal Gap report

In Rochester, three zip codes were among the state’s highest food-insecure communities (see table below). In 14608, 40.6 percent of residents are food-insecure — second highest in the state behind the 13202 zip code in downtown Syracuse. Two other Rochester zip codes cracked the top 10, with 14605 measuring at 34.8% and 14611 measuring at 34.3% — fifth and seventh, respectively. 

“Rochester’s food-insecurity rates were by no means surprising,” said Foodlink Executive Director Julia Tedesco. “They are illustrative of the deep connection between poverty and hunger and reveal that there is much work to be done by Foodlink and other mission-based organizations to eradicate both.”

Of all the metro areas in the state, Rochester’s collective food-insecurity rate was highest at 25.9%. Syracuse (24.8) and Buffalo (24%) were not far behind. A few rural communities also showed high food-insecure rates. The zip code 14480 (Lakeville, Livingston County) at the north end of Conesus Lake was 30.7%, albeit with a small sample size of 808 residents. The zip code 14802 (Alfred, Allegany County) was 24.5%. 

On the county level, all 10 counties saw improvements in their food-insecurity rates, as the overall rate dropped from 12.4% to 11.7%. Monroe County had the highest food-insecurity rate at 12.5%, which translates to 1 out of every 8 people. The county with the highest child food insecurity rate remained Allegany County at 22.4%. Ontario County possesses the lowest overall and child food-insecurity rates among the 10 counties, at 9.2 and 16.2, respectively. 

Researchers derived food-insecurity estimates by examining data for unemployment, poverty, median income and home ownership using the American Community Survey’s 5-year estimates (2012-2016). 

Highest food insecurity (FI) zip codes in New York:

 

 

County statistics (FI = overall food insecurity; CFI = child food insecurity)

Congressional District statistics:


¹ Gundersen, C., A. Dewey, A. Crumbaugh, M. Kato & E. Engelhard. Map the Meal Gap 2018: A Report on County and Congressional District Food Insecurity and County Food Cost in the United States in 2016. Feeding America, 2018.

 

Photos: Edible Education class plants flowers, herbs at school garden

Foodlink nutrition and gardening educators have been working with Education Success Network’s Neighborhood Arts program, which serves refugee youth in the Maplewood neighborhood, since January.

On Tuesday, we planted flowers and herbs that they had sown indoors around the MyPlate garden we’ve built at ESN’s Success Learning Campus. Check out some of the photos below…

Read more: Our Edible Education program was spotlighted in our recent Spring/Summer newsletter. Check it out. 

Rural Urban Dinner raises $5K for Foodlink

Foodlink on Monday accepted a check for $5,103.72 at the Waterloo Rotary Club meeting in Seneca County. The generous donation was raised in April at the 48th annual Rural Urban Dinner at del Lago Resort. 

Traditionally, the annual event has raised less than half that, however organizers were pleasantly surprised at the turnout, which included 18 sponsors, a farm-to-table menu with local food and wine pairings. 

Event organizers included: Ovid-Willard & Waterloo Lions Clubs, Seneca Falls & Waterloo Rotary Clubs, and the Seneca County Farm Bureau.

Other food-related programs that the group sponsors or participates in include a canned food drive, farmers’ market, food recovery and distribution program, and the BackPack Program (named Trevor’s Gift).

Foodlink welcomes Harley students for an ‘Allergy-Friendly Cooking Challenge’

Foodlink judges listen to Harley School students talk about their project before the Cooking Challenge taste test June 1 at Foodlink.

***

Here’s the thing about crazy ideas. 

Sometimes, they just might work. 

What started as an annual food drive by the students at The Harley School transformed into something much bigger in 2018. Jes Scannell Rooks, a Harley parent and Foodlink’s Director of Career Empowerment Initiatives, helped craft a new community service project — one that provided students with an “in-depth discussion about food, nutrition, hunger and recipe development … and a deeper understanding of Foodlink’s work in the community,” she said.

The focus of the project centered around how to devise tasty and healthy menu options for those inhibited by food allergies — a topic close to home for many fourth-graders at the school.

Foodlink staff visited with the fourth-graders multiple times to teach them about allergens and nutrition, and help them brainstorm allergy-friendly meals that would abide by Foodlink’s nutrition guidelines. They learned about various flavor combinations and tested meals in Harley’s new kitchen. The project culminated with a cooking competition and student-led presentations at Foodlink, where they also toured the Foodlink Community Kitchen and distribution center.

“One thing that struck me was seeing the kids grapple with the same issues that Foodlink’s Menu Innovation Committee struggles with consistently. It’s difficult enough to build a healthy meal, and it gets even harder when you have to avoid certain foods, work within a budget, or consider scaling the recipe up to make large batches,” said Margaret Liljedahl, Foodlink’s Nutrition Education Manager. 

On June 1, three groups of students prepared a different meal at Foodlink, and had to serve the meals, and give presentations about them, to a group of Foodlink judges. 

Gavin Shaw, who has food allergies himself, said the project allowed students to realize how fortunate many of them are, and gain a better understanding of the importance of food and nutrition. He was part of the team that worked on the “Josh Special” — named after Foodlink Eat Smart New York educator, Josh Wilcox, who helped with the project. 

After all of the meals were prepared and tested by six judges, including Foodlink Executive Chef Casey Holenbeck, the winners were announced. The group that prepared a delicious dish that included bow-tie pasta, broccoli and a cauliflower alfredo sauce earned the top prize. 

“Seeing the kids work through challenges was very impressive and the meals they created were delicious,” Liljedahl said. “It’s so exciting to see young people consider food in a new way and to work as a team to solve culinary problems. Lots of kids don’t get the chance to actually plan or cook meals, and today was a reminder that they can do a really great job, given the opportunity.”

Kudos to Rep. John Katko for voting against the House Farm Bill

The House Farm Bill, which was projected to cut millions of people from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in the years ahead, failed when the House brought it to the floor for a vote Friday. 

The defeat was a victory for anti-hunger advocates around the country who condemned the partisan bill for its restructuring of SNAP — primarily due to the proposed new work requirements. 

The reason many Republicans voted against it actually had little to do with nutrition assistance or farming. The Freedom Caucus wanted House leaders to commit to vote on new legislation pertaining to immigration. One local GOP Congressman, however, opposed the Farm Bill for the same reason Foodlink and hundreds of other anti-hunger organizations around the country did. Rep. John Katko, whose district covers Wayne County and areas east near Syracuse, issued this statement after the 213-198 vote: 

“Our region’s farmers and growers contribute significantly to Central New York’s economy and I’ve proudly fought for their interests in Washington.  The Farm Bill before the House today included critical relief for our dairy farmers by improving the Margin Protection Program.  It prevented cuts for crop insurance that CNY farmers heavily depend on, and it strengthened programs for apple and other specialty crop farmers.  I was proud to advocate for these reforms, and applaud their inclusion in the bill that the House voted on today.

“Despite these wins,  I voted against this bill because I simply cannot ignore the devastating rate of poverty in my district.   With nearly 18% of all households in NY-24 dependent on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), I could not look past the provisions in this bill which would alter this program significantly and result in a crushing blow to the thousands of individuals and families in our community working to raise themselves out of poverty.  We cannot give the most vulnerable members of our community yet another disadvantage.

“This is the beginning of the process, not the end.  While the bill failed to pass through this chamber today, I am hopeful that both sides can come together to bring a bill to the President’s desk that will both strengthen our region’s farming communities and ensure that those who rely on SNAP are able to feed their families and work towards a better life.”