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Get Involved

Volunteer

Volunteer, and you’re giving more than your time.

You’re giving families, kids, and seniors nourishment they may not otherwise receive. And you’re giving them the hope, confidence, and energy they need to live a richer life.

Every year, more than 15,000 volunteers donate their time and talents to help Foodlink provide support for thousands of low-income, food-insecure residents. Volunteers are essential at all levels of food bank operations, from sorting and repackaging food to assisting with our food-related programs, to helping at fundraising events.

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Volunteer opportunities at Foodlink

There are several volunteer opportunities at Foodlink:

  • Warehouse/distribution center: Volunteers will sort through donated food, perform food safety checks and help assemble bags of food for those in need. | Sign up here
  • Curbside Market: Volunteers will help our team load/unload produce, accept transactions, and engage with customers about eating healthy food. Curbside FAQ | Sign up here
  • Foodlink Community Kitchen: Volunteers will help prepare and assemble meals and snacks for children, and perform any tasks needed in the kitchen to ensure the safe and timely delivery of our meals. Please arrive on time. Timeliness is critical for our kitchen production staff. If you are late to your shift, we reserve the right to redirect you to the warehouse for an open volunteering shift. | Sign up here
  • Administrative/Computer assistance: Foodlink currently needs assistance with various administrative office tasks, including data entry from waiver forms into an Excel document. Volunteers must have experience with Microsoft Excel. | Sign up here 
  • Special Project Volunteers: Foodlink can accommodate individuals and groups with developmental or intellectual disabilities for one-hour volunteer shifts, Tuesday through Friday. Online registration and sign-up is required, as Foodlink no longer accepts walk-in volunteers. Sign up here. (10 volunteers per shift, maximum)
  • Nutrition Education: Volunteers can assist with our Just Say Yes to Fruits and Vegetables workshops at the Public Market, or with Cooking Matters, a 6-week course run by Foodlink educators designed to teach participants how to select nutritious and low-cost ingredients, and prepare them in ways that provide the best nourishment possible to their families. (More info/application)

With the exception of Nutrition Education (see link above for application or call Margaret Liljedahl at 585-413-4051), all volunteers can sign up for a shift via the Volunteer Matrix, which can be accessed below. We do not have the capacity to customize shifts — the ones listed in the Volunteer Matrix are the only ones available. 

For those signing up children’s or student groups (15 or more), please give Juliana Stefani a call (585-413-4077) so we can help schedule your visit and ensure you have an optimal volunteering experience. 

Please be sure to dress appropriately for your shift. For example, Curbside volunteers will be working outside, while warehouse volunteers will be working inside — but it can be chilly! Play it safe and dress in layers. Close-toed shoes are required for warehouse and kitchen volunteers, and recommended for Curbside. 

Volunteers who would like to work alongside our kitchen staff must follow strict food safety protocols. A hairnet and jacket will be provided. See the graphic at left (click to enlarge) for proper attire and please note that jewelry (including wedding rings) must be taken off while working inside our kitchen. Thank you for your understanding. 

>> Step-by-step guide to online registration

If you have questions about volunteering in our warehouse at Foodlink, please contact us at 585-328-3380 or volunteers@foodlinkny.org.

 

Volunteer FAQ:

 

Do I need to sign up?
Yes, pre-registration is required. You can sign up by clicking the big green button above.

What is age requirement?  
You must be at least 8 years old (with adult supervision) to volunteer at our warehouse. Those 16 and older can volunteer unaccompanied. Kitchen volunteers must be 18 or older.

Where do I go?
If volunteering in the warehouse, you should park in Lot B, which is in the back of the Foodlink building at 1999 Mt. Read Boulevard. Enter our parking lot off the Mt. Read Boulevard Service Road and continue straight back along the left side of our building. Turn right and continue past our kitchen entrance until you reach the Volunteer Entrance. Ring the buzzer if the door is not already open. 

What should I wear?
The warehouse can be chilly so dress comfortably and you must wear closed-toed shoes. For kitchen volunteers, we have stricter requirements, which are listed here.

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Board of Directors

Foodlink’s Board of Directors comprises community leaders who are passionate about our mission and committed to using their unique skill sets to help us reach our goals. The principal responsibility of our board of directors is three-fold:

  • To give Foodlink direction, establishing its vision, mission and values.
  • To provide oversight, especially in financial matters, to ensure accountability.
  • To ensure Foodlink has the resources it needs to do its work.

If you are interested in joining Foodlink’s Board, we recommend that you first serve as a volunteer on one of our board committees.  As a committee member, individuals have a chance to get to know the organization better, and to develop relationships with board members and key staff. After serving on a committee for a year or two, individuals are more equipped to understand the commitment of board service and the leadership culture.

Committees

The role of Foodlink board committees is to ensure best practices in the activities, or the major function, that the committee is assigned to.  Foodlink committees allow volunteers and potential board members to apply their existing expertise or build knowledge in an interest area. Currently, the Foodlink board has committees for:

  • Finance 
  • Marketing and Events 

 

Advocacy

Speak up and reach out.

 
Advocacy is critical to building a more equitable food system and reducing food insecurity in our region. Being an advocate means communicating with your legislators about issues that affect those who struggle to put food on the table. It can also simply mean talking with friends and family, posting on social media, and raising awareness about the need for a long-term solution to hunger.
 
We encourage you to join us as a hunger relief advocate. Look below for our current initiatives and get involved in fighting hunger in our community, in New York, and across America.
 

Identify your local reps

 

Not sure who your representatives are? Visit the NYS Board of Elections website and enter your address to find out your rep for the NYS Assembly, NYS Senate, U.S. House & U.S. Senate.

On the federal level, four Congressional districts span Foodlink’s 10-county service area. Members of Congress who represent the clients who benefit from Foodlink’s services include: Tom Reed (R, 23rd District), John Katko (R, 24th District) and Chris Collins (R, 27th District). The 25th District, which covers Monroe County, is currently vacant due to the passing of Rep. Louise Slaughter in March, 2018.  

Local office #s for:

Rep. Tom Reed’s Geneva office: (315) 759-5229
Rep. John Katko’s Lyons office: (315) 253-4068 
Rep. Chris Collins’ Geneseo office: (585) 519-4002

New York’s two senators are: Charles Schumer (D), who is currently the Senate Minority Leader, and Kirsten Gillibrand (D), who serves a vital role on the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Local office #s for:

Sen. Charles Schumer’s Rochester office: (585) 263-5866
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s Rochester office: (585) 263-6250

A large contingent of New Yorkers met with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s office during a Lobby Day in Washington D.C. on Feb. 27, 2018.

Federal advocacy efforts

Federal nutrition programs are critical to helping families facing hunger. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps families make ends meet by stretching their grocery budgets. Formerly called “food stamps,” those few SNAP dollars every week make all the difference in the world when it comes to putting nutritious meals on the table. The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) provides food banks with nutritious food from U.S. growers and producers and also helps transport and store the food. Without the program, less meals make it onto the plates of hungry families and farmers are forced to let fresh, nutritious food wither and rot.

This is a massive year for both programs with the scheduled reauthorization of the Farm Bill — a vital piece of legislation that addresses the funding and structure of each. SNAP funding, for example, accounts for approximately 80% of the Farm Bill. The House released its version of the Farm Bill in April, and the Senate is scheduled to follow suit in May. 

Blog: Read Foodlink’s response to the House Farm Bill release

Send a message to Congress now – tell them to fight back against any attempts to cut federal nutrition programs such as SNAP and TEFAP.

FRAC: What you need to know about SNAP & TEFAP

 

Did you know?

  • Last year, SNAP provided food assistance directly to 2.97 million New Yorkers, roughly 70% of whom are children, seniors or disabled. 
  • Moody’s Analystics estimates that in a weak economy, $1 in SNAP benefits generates $1.70 in economic activity. In 2016, SNAP benefits pumped about $4.9 billion into New York’s economy. 
  • SNAP helped lift an average of 710,000 New Yorkers out of poverty each year, according to recent data collected by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
  • Food banks around the country provide A LOT of meals for those in need. But did you know that SNAP provides 10 times more meals than food banks do annually?

New York State advocacy efforts

Foodlink also engages its state representatives to ensure its members agencies and the clients whom they serve are not left behind. Foodlink’s policy priorities for 2018 include: 

Protect Children and Expand Food Security to All NY Students

Double to $1.5 million the State’s investment to fully implement No Student Goes Hungry, advance an end to lunch shaming, expand Farm-to-School programs, establish Breakfast after the Bell in 1,400 schools, increase the reimbursement rate from 5.9 cents to 25 cents per meal for districts who buy 25% -30% of their lunch ingredients from New York farms, and establish food pantries on SUNY and CUNY campuses.

Enact the Food Rescue and Recycling Act (Executive Budget)

Passage would spur a Don’t Waste, Donate culture by recapturing edible, wholesome food from the State’s largest food generators. The Act facilitates valuable food donation channels, reduces atmospheric methane emissions and returns rich compost to NYS soil. The Food Bank Association of New York State membership will be involved in the training of food generators to adopt standardized guidelines for edible food donations before the Act takes effect in 2021.

Reinstate COLA to Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program

This funding allows our members to do great work, however, funding is not adequate and the Executive Budget does not include COLA in 2019. The Food Bank Association of NYS members request the 2019 COLA to be added to the NYS Budget.

Representatives from food banks around the state met in Albany on March 13 to meet with legislators about various anti-hunger issues.

Useful links

  • Foodlink’s executive director, Julia Tedesco, wrote a guest essay for the Democrat and Chronicle about the power of food and the impact of the SNAP program. | Read the essay 
  • SNAP (formerly called food stamps) typically generates headlines. TEFAP, however, is vital for food banks nationwide but doesn’t get as much attention. The USDA has provided a fact sheet about the program. | TEFAP Q&A
  • The Feeding America network relies on community members to take action, and speak up about ending hunger in the United States. | How to fight hunger
  • The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has several useful explainers, articles and studies about federal food assistance programs. | Visit their website
  • Hunger Solutions NY has a wealth of resources about how anti-hunger policies affect New York State. | Visit the website 
  • The following infographic is provided by the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) | Visit FRAC’s website