Foodlink’s Community Kitchen
About this project
Moving Foodlink’s kitchen to our operational headquarters is a dream that is finally coming to fruition. This critical asset needs space to grow, and the 8,000 square feet of space on Joseph Avenue is no longer meeting the needs of our organizational goals or this community.
In May, we broke ground on our new Community Kitchen, which will occupy 28,000 square feet of space behind our distribution center on Mt. Read Boulevard. Once construction is complete this fall, state-of-the-art equipment will be installed and 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.
Video shorts: Below are the first three of a series of videos featuring Foodlink staffers and their vision for our new Community Kitchen:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
To donate via check, make checks* payable to Foodlink, and mail to:
P.O. Box 60766
Rochester, NY 14606
* In the check’s memo, please write “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.
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.
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, 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.