Our mission is to end hunger and to leverage the power of food to build a healthier community.
Our vision is a healthy, hunger-free community.
Foodlink is the Feeding America regional food bank, which rescues and redistributes more than 16 million pounds of food annually to a network of 450 member agencies in a 10-county service area: Allegany, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming, and Yates Counties.
1 in 6 Americans are hungry—including more than 1 in 5 children.
The good news is that we can do something about this. And at Foodlink, we are. By orchestrating a complex system of food recovery, storage, and distribution, we are doing something very simple: feeding our neighbors.
The state of hunger in Central and Western New York:
- 36% of clients served by Foodlink are children; 5% are elderly
- 26% of client households include at least one employed adult
- 82% of client households have incomes below the federal poverty level
- 30% of client households report having at least one member in poor health
- 23% of clients had to choose between paying for food and paying for medicine or medical care
- 50% of clients are White; 37% are Black; 11% are Hispanic; 2% are from other racial groups
The Foodlink food bank works with area food retailers, manufacturers, and wholesalers to acquire, sort, store, and redistribute food to our member programs, namely soup kitchens, shelters, and emergency food pantries. In addition, Foodlink provides food to hundreds of non-emergency programs such as group homes and senior centers, helping non-profits agencies save vital dollars on their food budget so their scarce resources can be redirected to their programs.
From here to there
HOW FOOD FLOWS.
Most of the food we distribute comes from manufacturers, food drives, growers, packers, processors, retailers such as Wegmans Food Markets, and the USDA.
We safely acquire, handle, store, and redistribute food.
Food Pantries provide clients with free food.
Shelters provide food to their residents, often times the homeless, or abused women and children.
Soup Kitchens provide prepared meals to hungry people.
Other Feeding Sites such as after-school programs, rec centers, senior centers, and summer lunch sites.
*All Foodlink member agencies are 501(c)3 nonprofits
More than 200,000 people in our region rely on food from the Foodlink network each year. This is why we come to work each day.
Interested in becoming a Foodlink member agency?
Our Foodlink member agencies are non-profit organizations that provide assistance to people in need in our 10-county service area of Central and Western New York. The network includes both emergency programs such as food pantries, soup kitchens and emergency shelters, and non-emergency programs such as group homes, after-school, day care, senior center, and BackPack programs.
To become a member, first please review our membership criteria and, if you believe your agency qualifies for membership, call our Agency Services Manager at (585)328.3380 x148.
Foodlink Role & History
160 million pounds of food and counting.
Fighting hunger and fueling communities since 1978.
Foodlink: A Look Back
- 1978 – As an employee of Action for a Better Community, Tom Ferraro “rescues” Thomas English Muffins (enough to fill a school bus!)
- 1979 – Genesee Valley Regional Food Clearinghouse (GVRFC) begins partnership with Wegmans Food Markets
- 1980 – Tom helps found the national food bank network, today known as Feeding America
- 1983 – GVRFC incorporates as an independent charity
- 1988 – Wegmans donates a building on West Avenue to GVRFC to greatly expand warehouse space
- 1991 – GVRFC is renamed Foodlink
- 1993 – Foodlink begins one of the first Kids Cafe programs in the nation
- 1999 – Foodlink moves to 936 Exchange Street, donated by the Kolko Family
- 2001 – Foodlink establishes a Community Kitchen, known today as Freshwise Kitchen, to raise the bar of institutional food service
- 2008 – Foodlink proudly celebrates 30 years
- 2011 – Foodlink becomes a lead partner with Share Our Strength in the national Cooking Matters program
- 2012 – Foodlink headquarters moves to 1999 Mt Read Boulevard
It all started with some English muffins
Foodlink’s initial roots started in 1976, when our Executive Director, Tom Ferraro, was working at Action for a Better Community and received funding as a Community Food and Nutrition Program (CFNP).
In 1978, Tom went on a local news show to make a community-wide appeal for food to support the growing number of emergency food pantries in the area. He received a call for a food donation from the warehouse manager at Thomas English Muffins. The next morning, Tom arrived at the warehouse in his station wagon to pick up the muffins only to discover he’d actually need a tractor-trailer to haul away the generous donation. Since he didn’t have access to a truck, Tom borrowed a school bus—and filled it completely!
And thus the Genesee Valley Regional Food Clearinghouse, later the Genesee Valley Food Bank, was created with the mission to rescue and redistribute food from manufacturers, retailers, and other donors to human service organizations. In 1992, the Genesee Valley Food bank changed its name to Foodlink.
Foodlink now serves a 10-county area in the Genesee Valley and Finger Lakes Region of Upstate New York. We rescue and redistribute over 16 million pounds of food annually to a network of 450 programs. As a founding member of Feeding America, formerly America’s Second Harvest, Foodlink is part of a national network of 200 food banks.
Today, the Foodlink’s regional network of agencies serves 115,000 meals each week. That’s a total of more than 6 million meals annually to an estimated 150,000 different people. Since its founding, Foodlink has distributed over 160 million pounds of food—that translates into over $125 million worth of food for our community.
Meet Tom Ferraro, founder and late Executive Director of Foodlink.
Thomas C. Ferraro, lifelong anti-hunger advocate, community leader, and visionary entrepreneur who founded Foodlink, one of the nation’s first food banks, died February 11, 2014 of pancreatic cancer. He was 67.
Tom Ferraro founded Foodlink 36 years ago and was among the first “food bankers” in the nation. He served on the original Feeding America (known then as Second Harvest) Board of Directors, working with his peers to develop the concept of national food banking; he also assisted in the formation of the other seven New York State food banks as well as the creation of the NYS Department of Health’s Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program (HPNAP) which provides millions of dollars to hunger relief, food safety, and nutrition education programs each year.
Under Tom’s leadership, Foodlink grew into a 500-member organization distributing more than 18 million pounds of food and resources each year to area soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters, group homes, senior centers, day cares, after-school programs and other non-profit organizations. Foodlink runs more than 30 unique, food-related programs aimed at ending hunger, improving nutrition, empowering individuals with food literacy, and strengthening the regional food system.
Over the past three decades, Tom moved Foodlink’s focus beyond the symptom of hunger and toward its root causes, by working to build community health and wealth while providing holistic services to those in need. Foodlink goes beyond food banking by focusing on workforce and economic development initiatives, conducting emergency and nonemergency provider trainings to build capacity and ensure safety, emphasizing child nutrition efforts, and offering nutrition, culinary education programs throughout our region. Tom was an entrepreneur in the nonprofit sector, creating two social enterprises and leading the way in innovative initiatives such as urban agriculture, local value-added processing and converting food waste into fuel and nutrient-rich soil.
Tom was the recipient of numerous distinguished community awards, including the Farash Foundation’s Inaugural Farash Prize for Social Entrepreneurship, a prestigious community award aimed at recognizing and rewarding the best innovative approaches to our society’s most pressing problems. For more on his accomplishments, click here.
Tom is survived by his mother, Marion Ferraro; beloved wife of 20 years Regine Calvar; sons Michael, Philippe and John; granddaughters Victoria and Isabelle; and countless family members, lifelong friends, partners and employees.
In his absence, Foodlink will continue to provide its full range of programs and services. Jeanette Batiste, Chief Operating Officer, and Julia Tedesco, Chief Development & Communications Officer, will jointly lead the organization as interim Co-Executive Directors. Both Batiste and Tedesco have been with the organization for five years and will work closely with the Board of Directors to ensure that Foodlink continues the high-level of operational efficiency, innovative anti-hunger programming, and community collaboration for which it is known.
Foodlink Board of Directors
Mr. Matthew Ray
Vice President, M&T Commercial Bank
Ms. Julie Camardo-Steron
President, Zweigle’s Inc.
Ms. Alyssa Whitfield
Assistant Director of Volunteer Development, Youth and Community Outreach
American Red Cross
Ms. Arline Santiago
Sr. Vice President and General Counsel,
ESL Federal Credit Union
Ms. Kimberli Johnston
Chief Financial Officer, Epilepsy-PRALID, Inc.
Mr. Patrick Bourcy
Sr. Vice President, Rochester/Southern Tier
Wegmans Food Markets
Mr. Joseph Casion
Partner, Harter, Secrest & Emery, LLP
Mr. Carey Corea
Chief Executive Officer, Idea Connections, Inc
Mr. Adrian Cosma
Associate Director of Corporate Relations,
Simon School of Business
Ms. Patricia Gottry Tobin
Mr. Earle Greene
Community Development Specialist,
FLPRC DePaul’s NCADD, Rochester Area
Mr. Robert N. King, Ph.D.
Director of Agriculture & Life Sciences Institute, MCC
Sister Beth LeValley
Sisters of St. Joseph
Mr. Thomas Pauly
Vice President, RBS Citizens Bank
Ms. Sheila Studebaker
Vice President Corporate Banking,
First Niagara Bank
Ms. Samantha Tassone
VP Human Resources, North Central Region,
Foodlink Foundation Board of Governors
Former Penfield Town Supervisor
Mr. Loren Flaum
Vice President Finance,
Flaum Management Company, Inc.
James Grossman, Esq.
Partner, Hiscock & Barclay
Mr. Jack Montague
Mr. Fernando Santiago, Esq.
Santiago Burger Annechino LLP
Mr. John Smith
Food is donated to Foodlink through grocery stores, food manufacturers and distributors, and community food drives. We also purchase food in order to offer complements to donated food selections, e.g., pasta and sauce. The food is sorted, collected, and stored at Foodlink. It is then distributed to a network of 450 nonprofit agencies, including food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, day care centers, and elderly care programs.
Many communities have a local “food pantry,” sometimes mistakenly called a “food bank.” Most of these community food pantries are sponsored by local churches or community organizations. A community food pantry’s mission is to “directly” serve local residents who suffer from hunger and food insecurity within a specified area.
A food bank is the clearinghouse for millions of pounds of food and other products that go out to the community. A food pantry functions as the arms that reach out to that community directly. Food banks and food pantries are not the same, however they share the same commitment. At Foodlink, we are proud of our partnership with food pantries and all of the partner agencies that support our mission to end hunger.
Foodlink serves 10 counties in Central and Western New York: Allegany, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming and Yates.
Foodlink receives its food from a myriad of sources. Primarily, we receive food from retailers such as Wegmans, the USDA and purchased product.
The term “USDA” refers to the type of foods available through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). TEFAP is a federal food distribution program sponsored by The United States Department of Agriculture. USDA-donated foods are distributed at no cost to emergency agencies via Foodlink. A member agency is considered USDA-eligible if it falls under the above definition of an EFP. For more information, contact Agency Services at (585)328.3380 x148.
In the fiscal year 2012-2013, the Food Bank distributed 16.7 million pounds of food. Today, the food bank’s network of agencies serve 115,000 meals each week, or a total of more than 6 million meals annually to an estimated 200,000 different people. Since its founding, Foodlink has distributed over 160 million pounds of food that translates into over $125 million worth of food for our community.
Over half of the food the Food Bank provides is perishable product: fresh produce, protein rich meats and dairy items.
Thanks to partnerships with Wegmans, Target, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club and BJ’s Wholesale, the Food Bank and its partner agencies rescue over 7 million pounds of retail damage each year, also referred to as salvage, that would otherwise wind up in landfills. These rescued food items are both non-perishable and perishable foods including meats, produce, deli foods, and baked goods.
Seeking Food Assistance?
Are you an individual in need of food?
If you are in need of food you may visit any of Foodlink’s member organizations for assistance. To find a location closest to you please enter your zip code in the agency locator on our website. Click on “need food” button and enter your zip code. Or may call 2-1-1, Lifeline for information on an emergency food provider near you. They will ask you for your zip code to identify organizations serving your neighborhood.
On your first visit to an emergency food provider, you have the right to be served regardless of proper identification, referral or documentation of need. On future visits, documentation may be required to verify other members of your household and your identity. You will be provided with clear policies and procedures for receiving food by the provider.
As an individual seeking food assistance:
- You have the right to receive food free of charge.
- You are not required to give donations, pay, work, or participate in religious services in order to receive food.
- You have the right to be treated with dignity and respect at all times, and receive food without discrimination against the basis of age, race, family status, gender, disability, religious belief, income or sexual preference.
- You may refuse any food items that do not meet your dietary or religious standards.
- The food you receive will meet the local, state and federal standards for food safety.
- You are not required to provide your Social Security Number in exchange for food.