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About Us

Overview

Our Mission

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

Our Vision

Our vision is a healthy, hunger-free community.

About Foodlink

Foodlink is a regional food hub and the Feeding America food bank serving Allegany, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming, and Yates Counties.  Our operations target the root causes of hunger.  We do this by distributing food to a network of human service agencies, serving meals through our commercial kitchen, and offering more than 30 food-related programs.   In 2014, Foodlink distributed over 18 million pounds of food—including 3.6 million pounds of produce, offered more than 200 nutrition education courses, and created new access points for healthy foods in underserved communities. Our innovative approach directly addresses health disparities related to food insecurity.

1 in 7 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

 For local food insecurity rates from Map the Meal Gap 2014, click here.

For local child food insecuirty rates from Map the Meal Gap 2014, click here.

 

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Food Banking

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.

DONORS

Most of the food we distribute comes from manufacturers, food drives, growers, packers, processors, retailers such as Wegmans Food Markets, and the USDA.

FOODLINK

We safely acquire, handle, store, and redistribute food.

AGENCIES

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

INDIVIDUALS

About 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?

Membership Criteria

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.  If you are an emergency food organization (pantry, soup kitchen, shelter), please contact Laura Sugarwala at (585) 328-3380 X151 or lsugarwala@foodlinkny.org.  If you are a non-emergency food organization (daycare, group home, senior center), please contact Phil Daniel at (585) 328-3380 X117 or pdaniel@foodlinkny.org.

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 today

Foodlink now serves a 10-county area in the Genesee Valley and Finger Lakes Region of Upstate New York. We rescue and redistribute over 18 million pounds of food annually to a network of 500 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 15 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.

Leadership

Foodlink’s only leader was Tom Ferraro until his passing in February 2014.  He was often quoted as saying, “Don’t think outside the box.  Live outside the box.” His legacy lives on through 30 food-related programs that address the root causes of hunger. Current leadership; Co-Executive Directors Jeanette Batiste and Julia Tedesco are ensuring that Foodlink continues the high-level of operational efficiency, innovative anti-hunger programming, and community collaboration for which it is known.

Executive Directors

Jeanette Batiste and Julia Tedesco

Jeanette Batiste and Julia Tedesco

FOODLINK BOARD NAMES NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS
Former Interim Co-Directors Will Jointly Lead the Organization

The Foodlink, Inc., Board of Directors voted unanimously to name Jeanette Batiste and Julia Tedesco as the organization’s Co-Executive Directors. Batiste and Tedesco have been serving as interim Co-Directors since the organization’s Founder and Executive Director, Thomas Ferraro passed away earlier this year. Both Batiste and Tedesco have held executive positions with Foodlink for more than five years, and were cultivated for executive leadership roles by Ferraro.

Batiste, who worked for a nonprofit organization in Malawi before moving to Rochester in 2008, has served the organization as its Chief Operating Officer. In this role, Batiste oversaw a 100% increase in food distribution to 18 million pounds per year, as well as the growth of Freshwise Kitchen’s meal service to local child feeding programs, and the recent development of the kitchen’s Value-Added Processing Center, which has distributed more than 100,000 lbs of locally-grown produce to schools in our region. In addition, Batiste led the organization’s efforts to strengthen its network of partner agencies, improve operational efficiencies, and foster sustainability by increasing earned revenue to more than $6 million per year.  Batiste received her Master’s degree from the London School of Economics. She will continue to serve as Foodlink’s COO in addition to her role as Co-Executive Director.

Tedesco is a Rochester native, and has served the organization as its Chief Development and Communications Officer. As CDO, Tedesco built and led a Development and Community Relations Department that now raises more than $3.8 million annually for the organization. She oversaw the growth of nutrition education and food literacy programming, as well as the implementation of innovative food access programs that have gained national recognition. In addition, Tedesco has been responsible for leading strategic organizational development initiatives and directing Foodlink’s anti-hunger advocacy and public policy efforts both locally and nationally.  Tedesco is a graduate of Syracuse University’s Maxwell School, where she received her Master of Public Administration degree. Tedesco will continue to serve as the organization’s CDO in addition to her role as Co-Executive Director.

Together, Batiste and Tedesco oversaw the relocation of Foodlink’s headquarters and distribution facility in 2012, and will continue to lead the organization’s transition to an innovative food hub focused on ending hunger, building community health, and fostering economic development.

“The Board is extremely pleased to announce that Julia and Jeanette are Co-Executive Directors for Foodlink,” said Matthew Ray, Chair of the Foodlink Board of Directors. “Their enthusiasm for the mission has never been stronger. With the support and confidence from the Board, they have, and will continue to, carry on the Foodlink vision.”

“The Foundation Board is thrilled with the Foodlink Board’s decision to select Jeanette and Julia as Co-Executive Directors,” said George Wiedemer, Chair of the Foodlink Foundation Board of Governors. “The Foundation fully supports this decision, and we are confident that these two remarkable women will continue to successfully lead the organization and impact on hunger in our community.”

Foodlink Board of Directors

Mr. Matthew Ray

Board Chair

Vice President, M&T Commercial Bank

Ms. Julie Camardo-Steron

Chair Emeritus

President, Zweigle’s Inc.

Ms. Alyssa Whitfield

Vice Chair

Assistant Director of Volunteer Development, Youth and Community Outreach
American Red Cross

Ms. Arline Santiago

Board Secretary

Sr. Vice President and General Counsel
ESL Federal Credit Union

Ms. Kimberli Johnston

Board Treasurer

Chief Financial Officer
Epilepsy-PRALID, Inc.

Mr. Patrick Bourcy

Sr. Vice President, Rochester/Southern Tier, Wegmans

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 Business School

Ms. Patricia Gottry Tobin

Community Activist

Mr. Earle Greene

Community Development Specialist,
FLPRC DePaul’s NCADD, Rochester Area

Mr. Robert N. King, Ph.D.

Director of Agriculture & Life Sciences Institute,
Monroe Community College

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, 
Toshiba

 

Foodlink Foundation Board of Governors

Mr. George Wiedemer

Former Penfield Town Supervisor

Mr. Loren Flaum

Vice President Finance,
Flaum Management Company, Inc.

Mr. Mort Kolko

Mr. James Grossman

Partner,
Hiscock & Barclay

Ms. Peg Havens

Field Marketing Director, 
Time Warner Cable Business Class

Mr. Jack Montague

Mr. Fernando Santiago

Partner,
Santiago Burger Annechino LLP

Mr. John Smith

Total Information

Remembering Tom Ferraro

Remembering 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.

 

FAQ

How does food banking work?

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 500 nonprofit agencies, including food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, day care centers, and elderly care programs.

What is the difference between a food bank and a food pantry?

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.

What part of New York does Foodlink serve?

Foodlink serves 10 counties in Central and Western New York: Allegany, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming and Yates.

Where does the Foodlink get its food?

Foodlink receives its food from a myriad of sources.  Primarily, we receive food from retailers such as Wegmans, the USDA and purchased product.

What is USDA/TEFAP 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.

How much food does the Food Bank provide?

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.

Does the Food Bank provide canned food only?

Over half of the food the Food Bank provides is perishable product: fresh produce, protein rich meats and dairy items.

What about all the food that ends up in landfills?

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.

What is your service area?

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 click on the need food button on the homepage. You 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.
Contact 211/LIFE LINE by calling 2-1-1 or 1-877-FLNY211 (1-877-356-9211).
In Genesee County:
Contact Regional Action Phone, Inc. (RAP) at 1-800-359-5727
In Orleans County:
Contact Regional Action Phone, Inc. (RAP) at 1-800-889-1903
In Wyoming County:
Contact Regional Action Phone, Inc. (RAP) at 1-800-786-3300
In Allegany and Yates Counties:
Contact 211 Helpline at 2-1-1, or 1-800-346-2211.