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 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. Last year, Foodlink distributed more than 17.4 million pounds of food — including 4.9 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 2017, click here.
Feeding America is a nationwide network of 200 food banks that leads the fight against hunger in the United States. Together, we provide food to more than 46 million people through food pantries and meal programs in communities throughout America. Feeding America also supports programs that improve food security among the people we serve; educates the public about the problem of hunger; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Individuals, charities, businesses and government all have a role in ending hunger. Donate. Volunteer. Advocate. Educate. Together we can solve hunger. Visit http://www.feedingamerica.org/.
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 nonprofit agencies save vital dollars on their food budget so their scarce resources can be redirected to their programs.
From here to there
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
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?
Our Foodlink member agencies are nonprofit 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. Contact our Member Services department if you are interested in becoming a member agency.
Foodlink Role & History
Fighting hunger and fueling communities since 1978. Let’s take 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 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
- 2014 – Foodlink founder and visionary Tom Ferraro passes away
- 2014 – Julia Tedesco and Jeanette Batiste are named Co-Executive Directors
- 2015 – Julia Tedesco is named Executive Director
- 2016 – Foodlink breaks ground on its new $4.9 million, 28,000-square-foot Community Kitchen at its Mt. Read headquarters. Construction is completed in November and the staff moves in on Dec. 5.
- 2017 – The Foodlink Kitchen is officially celebrated with a Grand Opening ribbon-cutting on June 14, 2017. Among those in attendance is Danny Wegman, who commits to providing a substantial “cross-the-finish-line” gift through the Wegman Family Foundation to fully fund the project.
How Foodlink was born
It all started with some English muffins.
Foodlink’s initial roots started in 1976, when our founder, Tom Ferraro, was working at Action for a Better Community and received funding as a Community Food and Nutrition Program (CFNP).
In December of 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.
Foodlink honors Ferraro and that first English Muffin food collection each year on December 19, which we affectionately call, “Muffin Day.”
In 1991, 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 more than 17 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, Foodlink’s regional network of agencies serves 15 million meals annually to an estimated 200,000 people. Since its founding, Foodlink has distributed over 250 million pounds of food—that translates into over $300 million worth of food for our community!
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. Today, Julia Tedesco is ensuring that Foodlink continues its high level of operational efficiency, innovative anti-hunger programming, and community collaboration for which it is known.
Executive Director – Julia Tedesco
Julia Tedesco serves as executive director of Foodlink and leads the organization’s transition to an innovative food hub focused on ending hunger, building community health, and fostering economic development. She’s been with Foodlink since 2009.
Tedesco is a Rochester native and also represents Foodlink in various capacities with the regional anti-poverty and economic development initiatives. She served the organization as its Chief Development and Communications Officer for several years before taking on the role of co-executive director in 2014. She was named the sole executive director in 2015.
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 was a key player in overseeing the relocation of Foodlink’s headquarters and distribution facility in 2012, as well as the relocation and expansion of Foodlink’s Community Kitchen in 2016.
Foodlink Inc. Board of Directors
Arline Santiago, Board Chair
Senior VP and General Counsel, ESL Federal Credit Union
Ronald Little, Board Treasurer
Senior Vice President Finance, Heritage Christian Services
Joseph Casion, Board Secretary
Partner, Harter, Secrest & Emery, LLP
Chief Information Officer, City of Rochester
Sr. Vice President, Rochester/Southern Tier, Wegmans Food Markets
Dr. Rick Constantino, M.D.
Internal Medicine, Rochester Regional Health System
Mr. Loren Flaum
Vice President Finance, Flaum Management Company, Inc.
Chief Human Resources Officer, Constellation Brands, Inc.
Beth LeValley, SSJ
Community Activist, Sisters of St. Joseph
Manufacturing Supervisor, The Gleason Works
President, Victor-Farmington Food Cupboard
Executive Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer
Rochester Regional Health
President, Germanow-Simon Companies
Vice President, Manning Squires Hennig
Dr. Ian Wilson
Founder/Medical Director, Rochester Endovascular, PLLC
Foodlink Foundation Board of Governors
Mr. George Wiedemer, Board Chair
Former Penfield Town Supervisor
Ms. Peg Havens, Board Vice-Chair
Field Marketing Director, Time Warner Cable Business Class
Mr. Mort Kolko, Board Treasurer
Mr. James Grossman, Board Secretary
Partner, Barclay Damon, LLC.
Mr. Fernando Santiago
Partner, Santiago Burger LLP
Mr. John Smith
President, 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, died on Feb. 11, 2014 of pancreatic cancer.
Ferraro founded Foodlink in 1978 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 19 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 nonprofit 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.
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 and 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 most 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.
Food Bank Member Relations
We partner with almost 500 human service organizations in a 10-county region. Foodlink works with both emergency agencies such as food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters as well as non-emergency agencies such as day cares, group homes, and senior centers. Our Member Relations team is here to provide you assistance in all aspects of food sourcing, nutritional output, and hunger-relief tools.
>> Overview: Interested in becoming a member agency?
For Current Member Agencies
Agency Advisory Council
The Agency Advisory Council (AAC) comprises representatives from member agencies. The AAC reviews and advises on Foodlink policies and procedures and assists new initiatives and strategic plans. This group meets quarterly.
Roberta Markel, Dept. of Health
David McKechney, HOPE Ministries
Lonnie Kaczka, Catholic Family Center
Roseann Lackey, Charles Settlement House
Debbie Evans, Irondequoit Community Cupboard
Dawn Rockefeller, Victor Farmington Food Pantry
Suzanne Krull, Cuba Cultural Center
Kathy Schlegel, Heritage Christian
Rev. Earl Greene, Newark Church of Christ
Nick Magliocco, Salvation Army
Belinda Knight, ACCORD Corporation
Jeff Lippincott, Zion Fellowship Church
Amy Patterson, Catholic Charities Livingston County
Dominick Lucisano, Hope Lutheran Church
Helen Van Arsdale, Tyre Food Pantry
Michele Siefried, Nunda Food Pantry
Jane Pascoe, Perry Emergency Food Pantry
Cora Marvin, Friendship House
Anne Wilkes, Cayuga/Seneca Community Action Agency
Foodlink Staff: Julia Tedesco, Mitch Gruber, Laura Sugarwala, Sheila Williams, Shawn Poutre, Morgan McKenzie
Serving with kindness and purpose
Foodlink partners with hundreds of member agencies throughout a 10-county service area. Here are a few examples of food pantries and hot meal programs that serve both our urban and rural clients and how they go above and beyond to meet their needs.
Member Services Team
Senior Manager of Nutrition and Food Safety Services, Lead Dietitian
Member Services Manager
Member Services Associate
Partnership Development Manager
Member Services Program Coordinator
Capacity and Compliance Specialist
Member Services Shopping Assistant
Food is donated to Foodlink through grocery stores, food manufacturers and distributors, and community food drives. We also purchase food to complement donated items, and food is also received through a federal program known as TEFAP (The Emergency Food Assistance Program). The food is collected, sorted, inspected and stored at Foodlink. It is then distributed to a network of hundreds of nonprofit agencies, including food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, day care centers, and elderly care programs.
Foodlink is a member of Feeding America, a nationwide network of food banks that secures and distributes 4 billion meals each year through food pantries and meal programs throughout the United States. | Search: Find a Feeding America food bank
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 such as Foodlink is typically not a direct-service organization. For those who come to us directly seeking food (either to our facility, or contact us via phone, email or social media), we always recommend people call 2-1-1 to find out about the local agencies that can meet their food needs, and provide other resources, as well.
A food bank is the clearinghouse for millions of pounds of food and other products that are distributed to the community. A food pantry functions as the arms that reach out to that community members 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 the Finger Lakes and Genesee Valley regions of New York: Allegany, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming and Yates.
Our service area is more than 7,000 miles, which stretches from the lake shore to the Pennsylvania border. The Feeding America network comprises 200 food banks that cover every county in the country. For example, the Food Bank of Western New York serves the four counties to the west of us around Buffalo, and the Food Bank of Central New York serves 11 counties that surround the Syracuse region.
Foodlink receives its food from myriad sources. Retailers such as Wegmans donate millions of pounds of food annually, and the same goes for local manufacturers. Community food drives also help us meet the needs of our agencies and the people whom they serve.
We also receive USDA TEFAP (The Emergency Food Assistance Program) product, and partner with dozens of local farms to purchase fresh produce. Foodlink also purchases food to complement its donations and ensure a wide variety of products are available for its network of member agencies.
The term “TEFAP” refers to The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). TEFAP is a federal food distribution program administered by the Food and Nutrition Service, and agency of the United States Department of Agriculture. American-grown foods are purchased by the USDA and distributed to food banks and other emergency food providers across the country, then distributed at no cost to emergency agencies via Foodlink. | Learn more on the USDA’s website
In the fiscal year 2017, Foodlink distributed more than 17 million pounds of food, which included nearly 5 million pounds of produce.
Foodlink has numerous programs in operation simultaneously — all designed to get nutritious food to the people who need it most. Within our food banking operations, we distribute food through three main channels:
- PARTNER AGENCIES
The agencies in our network have access to our inventory of purchased and donated product through an online ordering system. Agencies can stretch their food budgets by partnering with Foodlink because we have the capacity to buy in bulk and drive down costs. Agencies also can access food bank product for free through federal programs (such as TEFAP) or through state funding (such as HPNAP, the Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program).
- MOBILE PANTRY PROGRAM
This program allows Foodlink to partner with host sites (churches, community centers, etc.) and provide food for pop-up pantries on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis. This serves as Foodlink’s primary method of distributing perishable goods (produce, bread, meat) to the community as quickly as possible. This is a free, recurring distribution for communities where a local pantry may not have the capacity to meet the neighborhood’s need.
- BACKPACK PROGRAM
Donated and purchased product may fill bags of food for our BackPack Program when donations through our annual Fill the Bus campaign run low toward the end of the school year. The BackPack Program is designed to provide children with a bag of food each Friday afternoon, which can nourish them through the weekend or during holidays, when they don’t have access to school meals.
It’s true that the United States has a food waste problem. More than 63 million tons of food – the equivalent of $218 billion – is wasted each year. Waste happens at all levels of the supply chain: Farms (16%), consumer-facing businesses (40%), manufacturers (2%) and households (43%).
Foodlink, and the entire Feeding America network, partner with farms, manufacturers and consumer-facing businesses (such as Wegmans, Wal-Mart and Target) to help rescue food that would otherwise go directly to a landfill. Food banks are generally the last stop for all goods that would otherwise be thrown away.
At Foodlink, we do everything possible to rescue and redistribute food that is donated. Last year we received more than 19 million pounds of food at our distribution center. We generated 300,000 pounds of total waste, which includes non-food items such as packaging. That equates to approximately 1-2% food waste.
To reduce waste, Foodlink …
- Partners with a local firm to recycle organic waste into compost, which we will then use in many of our community gardens.
- Partners with pig farms, which receive produce and other products that are past date.
- Quickly distributes perishable goods via our Mobile Pantry program.
- Partners with food banks in other states that abide by different regulations and ship some products that don’t meet our standards to them.
- Ships dented cans to a partner food bank in Michigan, which has equipment to determine if the integrity of the product has been compromised. They are able to “rescue” 80% of all cans that we cannot distribute.
Foodlink might dispose of product for a variety of reasons and must abide by strict food safety standards set forth by agencies such as the USDA and NYS Ag & Markets, AIB, Feeding America, and ServSafe. As a food distributor, populations that are especially vulnerable to food-borne illness (children, elderly, and those with immuno-compromised systems) often receive our products and we must keep their safety top of mind at all times.
Examples of why a product may not be fit for redistribution and consumption include:
- PERISHABLES: The product may too far past date. We follow the Cornell/USDA’s Food Keeper recommendations when analyzing expiration dates for perishable goods.
- NON-PERISHABLES: The product may be more than 6 months past date. We instruct our volunteers to discard products older than 6 months past date.
- The product may be deemed unsafe due to physical contamination (mold, etc.), or it was stored adjacent to products that were contaminated.
- The product’s packaging may have been comprised. When air infiltrates a sealed product, we must throw it out for food safety reasons.
- Foods that are not labeled must be discarded. If we cannot see ingredients, we cannot determine if the product is safe.
Seeking Food Assistance?
Are you in need of food?
If you are in need, you may visit any of Foodlink’s member organizations for assistance. To find a location closest to you, visit our “How to Find Food” map. 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).
- Genesee County: Regional Action Phone, Inc. (RAP) at 1-800-359-5727
- Orleans County: Regional Action Phone, Inc. (RAP) at 1-800-889-1903
- Wyoming County: Regional Action Phone, Inc. (RAP) at 1-800-786-3300
- Allegany and Yates Counties: Contact 211 Helpline at 2-1-1, or 1-800-346-2211