Celebrating National Farmers Market Week

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Foodlink is joining a chorus of agriculturally-conscious organizations across the country in celebration of National Farmers Market Week (Aug. 7-13).

In recent years, Foodlink has strategically aimed to distribute more local produce to our network of human service agencies and through a multitude of food access programs. Initiatives such as the Curbside Market, Urban Farm Stands and our Garden Project have all contributed to this movement’s success.

Foodlink is also a member of the Rochester Farmers Market SNAP Collaborative, which promotes the use of SNAP benefits at area farmers markets. The Curbside Market joins the City of Rochester Public Market and the Westside, South Wedge and Brighton farmers markets in this important initiative that incentivizes SNAP users to buy healthy, local food. 

This year, the week-long celebration is highlighting five key ways in which farmers markets benefit our country. Farmers markets:

  • Preserve America’s rural livelihoods and farmland
  • Stimulate local economies
  • Increase access to fresh, nutritious food
  • Support healthy communities
  • Promote sustainability

According to USDA statistics, there are more than 8,500 farmers markets nationwide – a 60 percent increase since 2009. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack signed a proclamation declaring National Farmers Market Week, saying:

“Farmers markets are an important part of strong local and regional food systems that connect farmers with new customers and grow rural economies.”

For more information about how Foodlink promotes farmers markets in its 10-county service area, visit the Food Access page on its website. And get out there and support our local farmers markets!

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Coolcan to show off soccer moves Aug. 20 at Rhinos Stadium

Coolcan relaxing during Iced Coffee Day in May.

Coolcan relaxing during Iced Coffee Day in May.

ROCHESTER — Foodlink confirmed on Tuesday that Coolcan, the coolest can in Rochester, would take his talents to Rhinos Stadium Aug. 20 to participate in the team’s annual Mascot Night

The Rochester Rhinos host the Pittsburgh Riverhounds that Saturday night and will also welcome in dozens of the area’s best mascots. Coolcan, of course, will represent Foodlink and said he’s looking forward to the big game.

“It’s an honor, really,” Coolcan said earlier this week in the Foodlink break room. “I’m probably going to have to do some light jogging, calisthenics and such. But come August 20th, I’ll be ready to rock.”

This is the first of two Foodlink appearances at Rhinos Stadium in a span of a few weeks. On Sept. 10, we have been invited to participate in Charity Night for the Rhinos’ game against Red Bulls II. For each tickets bought via the Foodlink promotional code, $5 will be donated to Foodlink.

For the Aug. 20 game, Coolcan and other mascots will greet fans before the game and participate in a soccer game at halftime. Coolcan is rumored to have moves like Messi. We’ll have to wait and see. 

Cooking Matters at the Store returns to Price Rite

One of the four stations at Foodlink's Cooking Matters at the Store event on July 22.

One of the four stations at Foodlink’s Cooking Matters at the Store event on July 22.

Dozens of Rochester shoppers gained tips on how to maintain a healthy diet on a tight budget thanks to another successful Cooking Matters at the Store event July 22 at the Price Rite on Driving Park Avenue.

MVP Health Care partners with Foodlink for the Cooking Matters with the Store program.

 

More than 100 people — some shopping solo, others with children in tow — signed up for the store tour, which featured stops at four learning stations: Produce, Protein, Dairy and Grains. Nutrition educators from Foodlink, Finger Lakes Eat Smart New York and the Cornell Cooperative Extension all provided tips on comparing unit prices, reading Nutrition Facts labels and more. Foodlink partners with MVP Health Care for the event, and participants walk away with a $5 gift card, a free reusable bag and a recipe book.

The next event day will be held in September during Hunger Action Month. Stay tuned for the exact date, time and location. To learn more about the program, visit Foodlink’s website or cookingmatters.org.

The Dairy station at Foodlink's Cooking Matters at the Store event day on July 22.

The Dairy station at Foodlink’s Cooking Matters at the Store event day on July 22.

 

 

Is granola good for us?

Homemade granola.

Homemade granola.


A recent story in the New York Times dug into the common misconceptions about so-called healthy foods in a typical American diet. Times staff used a polling firm to survey hundreds of nutritionists to gauge their opinion on foods that ran the healthy spectrum from quinoa to french fries. They then asked the same questions to everday Americans.

According to the study: “No food elicited a greater difference of opinion between experts and the public than granola bars. About 70 percent of Americans called it healthy, but less than 30 percent of nutritionists did.”

Granola (without the bar) also produced dissimilar reactions with 80 percent of the public saying it was decidedly healthy, while only 47 percent of nutritionists agreed. Other items, such as frozen yogurt, orange juice and American cheese, also produced varying results.

But what’s the deal with granola? We asked a pair of registered dietitians at Foodlink to react to the story and, specifically, share their thoughts on granola.

Alyssa Bennett, Foodlink’s Nutrition Education Manager, said there are healthy and unhealthy versions of many foods. With granola, however, the key is considering the ingredients (especially the amount of sugar) and the portion size. Typically, the serving size for granola is less than that of other cereals. One easy solution … make your own!

“Making homemade granola is a great idea because not only can you control what you put in it (your favorite nuts and dried fruit) but you can make a big batch and save money,” said Bennett, who also provided this homeade granola recipe from the Cooking Matters program. “I love to eat granola with berries or a sliced-up banana with low-fat milk or another form of dairy like low-fat yogurt or almond milk. That’s 3 to 4 food groups (dairy, fruit, grains, some protein with nuts).”

Laura Sugarwala, Foodlink’s Senior Manager of Nutrition & Food Safety Services, agreed that portion size and ingredients play a huge role in making a purchasing decision with granola as more and more manufacturers try to expand their “healthy” options with mixed results.

“The basic ingredients in granola and granola bars — oats and raisins — have fiber and vitamins,” Sugarwala said. “But combining these basic ingredients with corn syrups and other sugars means the food can end up being more like a dessert than a meal. Eating too much of these foods adds extra calories for the day.”

With recent help from the FDA and World Health Organization, the public has gained awareness for the “added sugar” found in many of our favorite foods. We are advised to limit our sugar intake to 50 grams per day.

“Granola is typically 10-18 grams of sugar per serving,’ Sugarwala said, “which means if you choose a serving of granola, remember to limit added sugars in other meals throughout the day.”

Rhinos partner with Foodlink for Charity Night fundraiser

RHINOS

The Rochester Rhinos will welcome Foodlink and other area non-profits and charities to its Sept. 10 Charity Night game on Sept. 10 against New York Red Bulls II.

Fans interested in supporting both the Rhinos and Foodlink can purchase tickets right here. For every $15 ticket sold, $5 goes toward Foodlink and its mission to end hunger.

Foodlink supporters will have a special reserved seating section at Rhinos Stadium for the 5:05 p.m. game. Contact the Rhinos’ Todd Amo (tamo@rhinossoccer.com) for more information.

The Rhinos (7-4-5), the defending USL champions, currently sit in a tie for 5th place in the Eastern Conference standings.

They host FC Montreal this Saturday at 7:05 p.m.

Progress Report: Community Kitchen update (July)

A view inside Foodlink's Community Kitchen in mid-July.

A view inside Foodlink’s Community Kitchen in mid-July.

Our blank canvas is coming to life.

Foodlink’s Community Kitchen began decades ago as a vision of founder Tom Ferraro. In May, we broke ground inside what was, essentially, a 28,000-square-foot empty room at our Mt. Read headquarters. It was an exciting moment, but one still needed a powerful imagination to picture a state-of-the-art commercial kitchen.

Construction crews are hard at work getting Foodlink's kitchen built for the fall.

Construction crews are hard at work getting Foodlink’s kitchen built for the fall.

Today, our blueprint is starting to leap off the page. We have walls. And where we don’t have walls, we have framing that will soon become more walls. Other notable updates since the last progress report include:

– Installation of the HVAC & duct work

– Framing of 90% of the walls

– In-wall plumbing and electrical work is underway

– Dry walling has begun

Coming soon:

– Construction of our coolers (this week)

– Value-Added Processing equipment will be built and shipped to Foodlink (next few weeks)

The fall can’t get here soon enough! Check back with us next month for another update.

Almost all of the framing for the walls of Foodlink's new Community Kitchen is in place.

Almost all of the framing for the walls of Foodlink’s new Community Kitchen is in place.

HVAC materials that will soon be installed in Foodlink's Community Kitchen.

HVAC materials that will soon be installed in Foodlink’s Community Kitchen.

Foodlink expects to triple its meal production capacity once the kitchen is up and running.

Foodlink expects to triple its meal production capacity once the kitchen is up and running.

City farm stand schedule begins

farmstandsignJuly marks the start of farm stand season for the 10 stands that Foodlink assists with to provide greater access to fresh produce for city residents. The schedule runs from July 5 through October. Fruits and vegetables can be purchased at affordable prices via cash, debit or EBT.

Here’s the schedule:

TUESDAYS

Site Address Time
441 Minstries 441 Parsells Ave. 3 – 7 p.m.
Bridges to Wellness 700 North St. 4 – 6 p.m.

WEDNESDAYS

Site Address Time
Aenon Baptist Church 175 Genesee St. 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Cathedral Community Church 296 Flower City Park 2:30 – 5:30 p.m.
Project HOPE Conkey Corner Park 4 – 7 p.m.

THURSDAYS

Site Address Time
Mary’s Place 414 Lexington Ave. 1 – 4 p.m.
Humboldt R Center 1045 Atlantic Ave. 2 – 6 p.m.
St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church 350 Chili Ave. 4 – 7 p.m.

SATURDAYS

Site Address Time
St. Mark’s & St. John’s Episcopal Church 1245 Culver Rd. 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Parma Baptist Community Church 4997 W. Ridge Rd. (Spencerport) 2 – 5 p.m.

 

Curbside Market’s new vehicle to debut soon

Our newest Curbside Market vehicle on June 30 at MDesign.

Our newest Curbside Market vehicle on June 30 at MDesign.

 A few of us at Foodlink stopped by MDesign on June 30 for a peek at the progress of our newest Curbside Market vehicle, slated to hit the road later this month.

During our first visit on June 20, the truck was more or less an empty shell, four wheels and a steering wheel (and other important car parts, of course). During yesterday’s visit, we got to see the generator, the refrigerator and some of the shelving racks installed.

Curbside’s summer schedule begins next week. Stay tuned for more updates about our new truck!

A view of the new Curbside truck, looking out the back.

A view of the new Curbside truck, looking out the back.

Another view of the new Curbside truck, from the other direction.

Another view of the new Curbside truck, from the other direction.

 

Thanks to MDesign on Norman Street for all your hard work!

Thanks to MDesign on Norman Street for all your hard work!

‘Garden of Love’ celebrated on Brown Street

St. Peter's Garden of Love now has nine beds, thanks to an Eagle Scout project and Foodlink's support.

St. Peter’s Garden of Love now has nine beds, thanks to an Eagle Scout project and Foodlink’s support.

Love is in the air?

At St. Peter’s Kitchen on Brown Street, it’s actually in the ground.

The St. Peter’s Garden of Love held a celebratory event June 24 to commemorate its revamped garden, which was made possible with help from Foodlink and one dedicated Eagle Scout.

Assistant Director Mary Lupien said the plot of land behind St. Peter’s went from a mess of weeds one year, to four beds last year, to this year’s much-improved 9-bed layout, complete with an impressive drip irrigation system.

The rain barrels for the drip irrigation system at St. Peter's Garden of Love.

The rain barrels for the drip irrigation system at St. Peter’s Garden of Love.

Joey Philippone, an Eagle Scout with Troop 110 in Webster, undertook the project after he was connected to St. Peter’s through his mother, who has been volunteering there for years. He said he spent 245 hours on the project between March and June.

Bok choy and arugula was already aplenty on the day of the celebration, and this summer they are expecting tomatoes, radishes, collared greens, squash, beans, zucchini and more. Joey, with help from his father, installed the garden’s sign June 24 to celebrate the culmination of the project.

Foodlink had a heavy presence at the event. The Curbside Market made a stop at the kitchen, which also hosts a soup kitchen as one of Foodlink’s member agencies. There was also a Eat Smart NY nutrition education demonstration held during the garden celebration.

The garden is one of 29 that Foodlink has partnered with throughout its service area.

“We couldn’t do it without Foodlink,” said Lupien, who added that they were able to harvest a few hundred pounds last year, but a hungry groundhog prevented that number from rising.

This year, groundhog or no groundhog (hopefully the latter), there is optimism for more.

From left, Mary Lupien of St. Peter's Kitchen, Eagle Scout Joey Philippone and Nathaniel Mich of Foodlink.

From left, Mary Lupien of St. Peter’s Kitchen, Eagle Scout Joey Philippone and Nathaniel Mich of Foodlink.

Addressing rural poverty: A trip to Allegany County

Foodlink's Laura Sugarwala speaks at a June 15 hunger forum at the Cuba Cultural Center.

Foodlink’s Laura Sugarwala speaks at a June 15 hunger forum at the Cuba Cultural Center.

Some people are amazed when they learn about Foodlink’s service area for the first time. Although many of our resources are dedicated to improving the lives of the residents in Rochester and Monroe County, we actually serve 10 counties — a 7,000-square-mile area — in western New York.

Monroe, Wayne, Ontario, Seneca, Yates, Livingston, Orleans, Genesee, Wyoming and Allegany. Our programs and partner agencies cover plenty of ground.

And that was certainly apparent June 15 when four Foodlink staffers traveled to Allegany County (the southern-most county in our service area that borders Pennsylvania) to attend a forum on hunger, hosted by the Cuba Cultural Center and Accord Corp.

It was a great experience to get out into a community that — because of the distance — Foodlink doesn’t get to see as often as the neighborhoods we service in Rochester. Cuba is 93.7 miles from Foodlink’s headquarters — and the trip was well worth it.

The Cuba Cultural Center in Cuba, NY.

The Cuba Cultural Center in Cuba, NY.

The panelists for the event included: Laura Sugarwala of Foodlink, Amanda Khodorkovskiy of Living Acres Farm in Alfred Station, Deb Catozzi of Hunger Action Network, Suzanne Krull of the Cuba Cultural Center and Teri Violet of Cornell Cooperative Extension. Belinda Knight of Accord Corporation served as the moderator for the evening.

Sugarwala, Foodlink’s Senior Manager of Nutrition & Food Safety Services, was joined by Chief Program Officer Mitch Gruber, Member Services Manager Morgan McKenzie and Communications Specialist Mark Dwyer. As Foodlink stated multiple times throughout the event, Allegany County is lucky to have great agencies such as Cuba Cultural and Accord to assist those in need.

Rural poverty is not the face of poverty. But the issues they face and the effects of food insecurity can be just as severe as those found in urban and suburban communities.

After Sugarwala gave a brief introduction on the breadth of Foodlink’s services in Allegany and beyond, Khodorkovskiy spoke about her sustainable farm that makes it a priority to sell healthy products locally, practice bio-diversity and welcome volunteers.

“If we’re going to talk about food insecurity, we also have to talk about how secure your local food system is,” she said.

Catozzi spoke of the importance of advocacy, for which the Hunger Action Network is widely regarded around the state. She said her organization, like Foodlink, aims to meet the immediate needs of the community, but also tackle the “root causes” of hunger such as poverty and employment.

Cuba Cultural Center partners with Foodlink in a variety of ways.

Cuba Cultural Center partners with Foodlink in a variety of ways.

Krull highlighted all of the ways the Cuba Cultural Center is addressing the issues ever-present in her community. They are Foodlink partners with the BackPack Program and as a Mobile Pantry site.

“But we can’t do it alone … it has to be a collaborative effort between all of the sectors,” Krull said.

Violet, who is from the San Francisco area originally but has now been a New Yorker for 20 years, made the case for the importance of nutrition education and meeting families where it is convenient for them.

In the Q&A that followed, key takeaways included:

* The need for volunteers to not only provide assistance, but witness the issues first-hand.
* There shouldn’t be such a distinct line at events that invite affluent donors who offer services and low-income residents who receive services. There needs to be more interaction. We need to “bridge that gap,” Krull said.
* The importance of promoting services through school districts … and on social media.

Foodlink is proud of its Rochester roots. But trips to Allegany County illustrate just how far we’ve grown as an organization — and how many people we serve.

Cornell Cooperative Extension's Teri Violet speaks at the June 15 forum on hunger at the Cuba Cultural Center.

Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Teri Violet speaks at the June 15 forum on hunger at the Cuba Cultural Center.