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Foodlink’s Community Kitchen

About this project

Moving Foodlink’s Community Kitchen to our operational headquarters is a dream that is finally coming to fruition. This critical asset needed space to grow, and the 8,000 square feet of space on Joseph Avenue no longer met the needs of our organizational goals or this community. 

In May, we broke ground on our $4.9 million Community Kitchen, which now occupies 28,000 square feet of space behind our distribution center on Mt. Read Boulevard. The construction phase of this transformational project was completed on Nov. 18! Our staff began meal production in their new home on Dec. 5. The final phase of our fundraising campaign to secure the remaining dollars necessary to complete the project is underway. 

As our staff settles in and gets acclimated to their new surroundings and state-of-the-art equipment, we can begin focusing on three critical program areas: Serving more healthy meals for children, enhancing our Value-Added Processing operations, and creating a sustainable culinary workforce training program.

Having everyone at Foodlink finally under one roof will enable us to strengthen our organizational culture and commitment to a healthy, hunger-free community. 

Several local and state officials gathered at Foodlink May 11 to celebrate the Community Kitchen groundbreaking.

Several local and state officials gathered at Foodlink May 11 to celebrate the Community Kitchen groundbreaking.

How you can help

This project would not be possible without the generous support of the Rochester community. Major funders so far for the project include: Empire State Development funding through the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council, Greater Rochester Health Foundation, The Wegman Family Charitable Foundation and ESL Charitable Foundation. Wegmans Food Markets, whose gift helped to mobilize community support for the project, is also providing expertise with the implementation of the culinary workforce training phase of this project. 

If you would like to provide financial support for this project, you can donate online and select the “Community Kitchen” option in the menu provided, or reach out to our Director of Development, Kathleen Kiernan, at (585) 413-5054 or kkiernan@foodlinkny.org

To donate via check, make checks* payable to Foodlink, and mail to:

Foodlink, Inc. 
P.O. Box 60766
Rochester, NY 14606

* In the check’s memo, please write “Community Kitchen”

The kitchen’s main meal production room, pictured in late November, is ready to go.

The kitchen’s main meal production room, pictured in late November, is ready to go.

Progress reports & video series

Blog updates: Groundbreaking | June | July | August | September | October | November

Video shorts: Below is our ongoing series of videos featuring Foodlink staffers and their vision for our new Community Kitchen:

 

Healthy Meals for Kids

Several area charter schools, after-school programs and extended-day sites partner with Foodlink to provide healthy meals for thousands of Rochester’s low-income children. When school lets out, the kitchen serves up food for Summer Meals sites and other local camps and programs. On average, our kitchen is preparing about 4,000 meals per day.

After our new Community Kitchen is up and running, Foodlink aims to triple production capacity to 12,000 meals per day. The need to provide more healthy meals to children in the Rochester community is there. Studies have proven that increased access to nutritious meals can lead to better academic performance. 

Spider-Man digs the food at the 2015 Summer Meals Fest at Frontier Field.

Spider-Man digs the food at the 2016 Summer Meals Fest at Frontier Field.

Value-Added Processing

Since 2012, Foodlink has purchased apples from local growers and pre-sliced them to make them more appealing for children. The technique, known as Value-Added Processing, has been hampered in our current facility by limited processing space and the prohibitive cost of equipment.

In the new kitchen, apples will be sliced in an automated line at a rate of 24 boxes per hour — rather than 2 — and other types of produce will be piloted. This process, which boosts our “farm-to-school” initiative, provides new markets for local agricultural producers, spurring the local economy and creating healthier food options for students. 

Wayne County is one of the top apple-producing counties in the United States.

Wayne County is one of the top apple-producing counties in the United States.

Workforce Development

Foodlink already hosts Work Experience Program participants in its distribution center and kitchen on a daily basis. The Community Kitchen, however, will allow for a completely new experience. 

In order to meet the demand for middle-skills culinary jobs in the Finger Lakes region, the kitchen will develop a one-of-a-kind employer-driven culinary training program for individuals with barriers to employment. With the help of Wegmans Food Markets, this program will promote the mastery of culinary skills and provide hands-on food production experience that will lead to a stable job — and hopefully a fulfilling career.

The Community Kitchen aims to promote economic development by supporting targeted workforce needs.

The Community Kitchen aims to promote economic development by supporting targeted workforce needs.