How We Fight Hunger
These are the programs and initiatives we’ve established to help us fight hunger. Programs that target everyone from school children to families to seniors. Here you can learn more about these programs—and how we’re working to prevent hunger each and every day.
Foodlink provides food to more than 500 partner agencies. We provide food to emergency food organizations such as food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters. We also assist 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.
There’s enough food to go around. Foodlink’s 80,000 sq ft warehouse can hold 5 million pounds of food a day. Our freezer is capable of holidng one million pounds. Our cooler can hold 400,000 pounds. Each day, our trucks travel 1,260 miles. A collaborative effort of Foodlink employees, volunteers and community members work to help ensure that mouths are fed and bellies are full.
What is the BackPack Program?
Nearly 78,000 children in our 10-county service area received free or reduced-price lunch at school. But when school is closed during weekends and holidays, many of those children go hungry. The BackPack Program from Foodlink provides children in need with bags of nutritious food they can discreetly take home and easily prepare on their own.
During 2012-2013, we are serving nearly 1,800 children a week in 80 schools.
Good nutrition is critical to good health and success at school. Children who don’t get enough to eat often have:
- Trouble concentrating
- Lower Math and English scores
- Difficulty interacting with peers
- Trouble finishing tests in time
- Lower graduation rates
How you can help
Donate to the program—just $200 feeds one child for an entire school year. That’s just $5 a week! You can choose to sponsor the BackPack Program at many levels: from covering one child for a month all the way up to sponsoring an entire school. 100% of your monetary donations go directly to buying, packing, and distributing food to hungry kids. Contact Laura Sugarwala at (585) 328.3380 x151, email@example.com for more information.
“I feel happy about the BackPack Program because it makes me and my family feel happy. Thank you for the BackPack Program!”-BackPack Participant
Become a BackPack site and help hungry kids in your school. Thinking about becoming a BackPack site? Some things to consider are: how students in need will be identified, how you will receive and store BackPacks, how they can be distributed discreetly, and who will be in charge of the program. Learn more about starting a program here. Contact Laura Sugarwala at (585) 328.3380 x151 for more information. .
“More and more people are becoming aware of how this small program is making a great impact. By the growing number of different volunteers from adults to children they are seeing first hand how many kids we are able to help and how the Backpack Program makes a difference for so many of our kids.”-District Coordinator
A mobile pantry is a market on wheels, filled with essential, nutritious food items, that travels to locations to serve rural and under-served areas. Volunteers from the host sites help setup and serve clients. Our Mobile pantries allow us to engage a much larger circle of groups in supplying food to the needy, thereby increasing the number of people served, and extending service into regions that the food bank haven’t before been able to reach.
For more information contact: Morgan McKenzie at (585)328.3380 x148
$AVE is designed to increase self-sufficiency by helping individuals stretch their food dollars. Foodlink is able to purchase food items in large quantities at discounted prices and these savings are passed on to customers. Foodlink operates this service with member agencies through mobile pantries in our ten-county service area. There are no income guidelines or restrictions – anyone can participate at any time.
$AVE is focused on providing affordable meats, poultry and seafood because these grocery items tend to have the highest mark up at retail stores.
For more information contact: Morgan McKenzie at (585)328.3380 x148
Nourishing kids with good food.
We provide kids with hot, nutritious meals so they can spend their time playing and learning—not worrying about where their next meal will come from.
The Kids Cafe Program was established to provide healthy meals for children in a safe after school environment. Currently, Foodlink provides meals to 3,000 children every weekday during the school year at 58 Kids Cafe sites.
Fill out an application today to become a Kids Cafe member site. For more information contact Dorthea King-Simpson at (585)254.4423. All applications must include a copy of OCFS licensing.
Freshwise Kitchen’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP, also known as Summer Meals) provides meals to children who eat free or reduced price lunch during the school year. Over the summer, however, these children are at risk of hunger. For seven years, Freshwise has partnered with the NYS Department of Education to ensure children eat at least one balanced meal every day in summer. Locally, Summer Meals is a collaboration with the City of Rochester, Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency, Foodlink, the Rochester Area Community Foundation, and the Rochester City School District. There are 66 open sites around Rochester offering free summer meals. Families can call 2-1-1 or go www.healthikids.org to find the closest site.
For more information on Summer Meals please contact Dorthea King-Simpson at (585) 254-4423.
During the summer of 2012, we began a new initiative by implementing a value-added processing (VAP) program to extend the shelf life of local agricultural products. Our VAP program will include workforce development training, as we teach individuals valuable skills in the preparing, processing, packaging, and marketing of raw local products. The final products of this program—a trained workforce and shelf-stable products—will benefit both producers and consumers in our regional food system.
For more information call (585)254.4423.
Food Access Programs
Doing our part to provide healthy and affordable food to all. We’re not just fighting hunger. We’re building self-sustainability through improved food access.
Urban Farm Stands
Access to fresh produce is key to fostering a healthy community. This summer, Foodlink is assisting with 10 farm stands throughout the City of Rochester. Local fruits and vegetables are available for purchase at affordable prices. Recipe cards are also available to plan meals. Produce can be purchased with cash, debit or EBT. Due to our seasonal weather, Urban Farm Stands only run during the months of July to October.
The Curbside Market is our farm stand on wheels. Foodlink will have two trucks on the road, thanks to a grant from the Citizens Bank Growing Communities Initiative . The 18 foot truck will be at 50 locations throughout Rochester and surrounding areas. The idea is to bring fresh affordable produce to areas of Rochester where finding fresh fruits and vegetables is not easily accessible. Cash, debit, EBT and WIC are all accepted.
Washington Square Farmers Market
Foodlink, in partnership with 8 local vendors, hosts its Farmers Market at Washington Square Park in downtown Rochester every Wednesday from 11am-2pm. Come enjoy delicious produce from local farms. Other market favorites include baked goods, nuts, maple syrup and eggs. A great way to spend your lunch break downtown!
At Foodlink, we are always working to increase and expand access to fresh, wholesome, and nutritious foods throughout our service area. We run many projects to achieve this goal, including the Garden Project, which links community gardens to the emergency food network, our series of urban farm stands, and our preliminary work on making corner stores healthier. The Garden Project also makes it possible for emergency food relief organizations to grow their own garden so that they can produce fresh fruits and vegetables to be used for emergency food recipients.
In addition, Foodlink helps facilitate an urban farm on Lexington Avenue. The farm currently servies 36 households from the Nepalese refugee community in Rochester. There is a 60-foot hoophouse in the space where we grow crops for Curbside Market as well as incubating plants for the Garden Project.
This summer, we have 18 total locations in five counties (Monroe, Ontario, Yates, Wayne, Orleans): 17 HPNAP-funded sites + Lexington Avenue Urban Farm & Hoophouse. Last year we had 11 locations in three counties and harvested over 5,500lbs of food. This year, we are effectively tripling our square footage under cultivation and expect to raise at least 10,000lbs of food.
Partner agencies in 2014:
Baden St. Settlement House
Northwest Neighborhood Outreach Center
Charles Settlement House
Salvation Army Southwest
St. George’s Episcopal Church/Hilton-Parma Foodshelf
St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church/Southwest Episcopal Ministries
Cameron Community Ministries
Calvary St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church
St. Mark’s and St. John’s Episcopal Church
Mission Share, Inc.
Canandaigua Churches In Action/Zion Fellowship
Food for the Needy/Penn Yan Community Garden
Newark Rotary/Wayne County Catholic Charities
This project is open to Foodlink member agencies. For more information, contact Nathaniel Mich at (585) 328-3380 x145 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rochester Healthy Store Initiative
Foodlink, thanks to our partners at Citizens Bank, is looking to team up with two Rochester corner stores for our Rochester Healthy Store Initative. Grant money will be provided to these stores to sell, market and keep fresh produce. The hope is more people will purchase fruits and vegetables if they are easily accessible. Stay tuned for information on ribbon cutting ceremonies later this year!
Teaching nutritious eating for a lifetime of healthy habits.
Individuals in our community who have difficulty accessing an adequate amount and variety of safe foods are at the highest risk for negative health outcomes like obesity and diabetes. Children and adults who do not have enough healthy food can also suffer from inability to focus and may perform poorly in academic settings.
Foodlink is committed not only to providing food, but helping individuals learn more about what they are eating so that they can take control over their own health and wellness. Foodlink uses the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and My Plate in sourcing, stocking, and distributing food, as well as in nutrition education classes.
Here our clients learn to grocery shop, cook, and eat healthfully—skills that can last a lifetime.
Foodlink is proud to be a Lead Partner of Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters. Cooking Matters is nationally program that works to make sure all kids have the healthy food they need every day.
Cooking Matters empowers families at risk of hunger with the skills, knowledge and confidence to make healthy and affordable meals. Alongside volunteer culinary and nutrition experts, course participants learn to select nutritious and low-cost ingredients, and prepare them in ways that provide the best nourishment possible to their families.
Click here to read the Cooking Matters Annual Report and the impact it has on the community.
Courses available through Foodlink include:
- Cooking Matters for Adults
- Cooking Matters for Kids
- Cooking Matters for Families
- Cooking Matters for Teens
- Cooking Matters for Child Care Professionals
If you are interested in hosting a class series, please download and submit a host site application to Foodlink
Cooking Matters now offers programming in Wayne and Ontario counties! Contact us to learn more.
Volunteer for Cooking Matters
Chef Instructors provide leadership for course curriculum. Volunteers must have background in the culinary arts and/or restaurant experience.
Nutrition Educators help facilitate and guide the group. Registered dietitians, those with a nutrition or food science background, and dietetic interns are encouraged to apply.
Class Assistants provide support and organizational assistance throughout the 6-week course.
Interpreters and Translators are a key source of connection between the course instructors and participants who are non-English speaking and/or from the deaf community.
Photo and Video Journalists will attend 2-3 Cooking Matters classes and produce high quality images and/or a video segment for marketing use.
If you are interested in volunteering, please send us a volunteer application.
Cooking Matters at the Store
Cooking Matters at the Store is an interactive grocery store tour that teaches low-income families to shop for healthy, affordable food. Participants learn to find whole grains, buy fruits and vegetables on a tight budget, compare unit prices, and read food labels. Tours are offered in English and Spanish throughout our 10 county service area to groups of low income adults. Participants receive a booklet of tips and recipes, a reusable grocery bag, and $10 in healthy groceries after the tour.
To learn more about becoming a host site, volunteer opportunities, or signing up for classes, contact Alyssa Bennett, Nutrition Education Coordinator at (585) 328-3380 X 123 or email her at email@example.com.
Just Say Yes to Fruits and Vegetables (JSY)
Foodlink offers the Just Say Yes to Fruits and Vegetables (JSY) Program to emergency agencies. The JSY Program began in New York in 1997 in order to provide nutrition education and obesity prevention programming to low-income clients of the emergency food network. It is funded through the state Department of Health and USDA’s SNAP-Ed Project. SNAP-Ed supports nutrition education for people eligible for SNAP (formerly known as food stamps).
The mission of JSY is to work together with organizations that serve food insecure populations to improve the health and nutritional status of SNAP-eligible populations in New York State. We do this through promoting fruit and vegetable consumption and empowering clients to make healthy choices.
Foodlink offers JSY classes to our emergency agencies, like food pantries and soup kitchens. Each class includes a nutrition lesson and activity, a cooking demonstration, and healthy recipes to taste. To request a class, contact Omy Rodriguez, JSY Nutritionist, at (585)328.3380 x165. To learn more, visit www.jsyfruitveggies.org.
JSY at the Market
This summer, Foodlink piloted the “JSY at the Market” program. A nutritionist offered free cooking demonstrations at the Rochester Public Market every Thursday and Saturday. Over 500 participated in the workshops this summer! The cooking demos provided accessible uses for all the delicious fruits and vegetables available at the market and are targeted to individuals and families who utilize SNAP. JSY at the Market will be back next summer. For more information, contact Larkin Kimmerer at (585) 328-3380 ext 154.
Check out our blog for popular JSY recipes.
Kids CAN & Customizable Nutrition Education
Foodlink now offers fully customizable nutrition education, tailored to meet the needs of your organization and your clients. A trained Foodlink nutrition educator will come to your site to offer hands-on nutrition activities, cooking and healthy snack making, and food budgeting tips for your group.
Nutrition education can be customized for any age group, skill level, or topic. Some favorite topics include:
- Eat Your Colors!
- MyPlate & Basic Nutrition
- Sugar and Healthy Drinks
- Food Marketing & Fast Food
- Food Budgeting & Shopping
- Reading the Nutrition Facts Panel
- Food Origins & Food Miles
- Basic Cooking
The cost of the program includes staff time, travel within Rochester, food, equipment, and materials to plan and bring nutrition education programming right to your organization. All you need to provide is a clean space with electricity, hot running water, and willing participants!
Cooking + Nutrition
Cost per 45-90 minute session*
10% discount for Foodlink member agencies
Scholarships may be available on a limited basis for organizations that cannot pay for nutrition education. Call the Community Nutrition department for more information.
*Longer sessions may incur additional costs
Looking for inspiration? Here are some of our recommended workshops:
For Kids: Eat Your Colors! + Food Origins
Where does food come from? Why are fruits and vegetables healthy, and can they really taste good? Children will learn about plant and animal sources of food and taste a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. Nutrition Educators teach children that different colored fruits and vegetables have different benefits for healthy bodies! Recipes may include smoothies, veggies and dip, or fruit salad.
For Teens: Food Marketing + Food Labels
How do you decipher a food label? What are all of those ingredients? How do food companies trick us into buying their products? Teens learn to locate the important information on food labels, and how to navigate the complex world of food advertising to make healthy, informed decisions about the food they eat. Recipes may include healthy “soda,” trail mix, or chips and salsa.
For Adults: Food Budgeting +Healthy Meals
How do I get the best deal at the grocery store? What are some quick, healthy recipes for my family? Adults will learn the basic nutrition skills needed to plan healthy meals for themselves or their families; budgeting tips and basic cooking skills are covered. Recipes include black bean and corn salad, vegetable stir fry, or beans and greens.
For Seniors: Cooking for One
How do I cook for just myself? What are the best foods for me to buy? Recognizing that seniors have different nutrient needs, a Foodlink nutrition educator will teach adults how to prepare meals for one or freeze meals for later. Topics may include special nutrient needs for older adults and physical activity. Recipes include smoothies, soup, or Pad Thai.
Train the Trainer: Providing Nutrition Education
Foodlink’s Nutrition Education team can provide your staff with the skills and tools to bring nutrition education to your clients or community. Topics covered include nutrition education best practices, curricula and activities, food safety, and basic cooking skills. $150 flat fee includes curriculum and activities to keep.
To schedule a class, or request more information, contact
firstname.lastname@example.org (585) 328-3380 x15 or complete the Nutrition Education Request Form and submit it via email to email@example.com or fax to (585) 328-9951.
Healthy Eating Tips
o help keep the cost of food lower, try these shopping tips:
Before you shop…
- Decide to make healthy substitutions in classic recipes. Try replacing up to 75% of the oil in baked goods with applesauce or banana puree. Or try replacing up to 100% of the butter, margarine, or oil in baked goods with bean purees.
- Plan on beans and legumes. Meat is the most expensive part of the meal. Cut down on your total meal cost by using non-meat protein instead.
- Make a menu. Plan to use ingredients that spoil more quickly first. Other foods, like squash and potatoes, will stay good longer.
While you’re shopping….
Stretch your dollar
- Try buying in bulk. Compare unit prices. Often larger sizes also cost less.
- Make foods from scratch. Cut out the middle man and cut down the cost! Great items to make from scratch are bread, soup, jam, hummus, salad dressing, and salsa.
- Look for sales. Check the bakery for half-off specials on “day old” items at the end of the day. Check the meat section for discounted prices on meat that is soon to expire- then freeze it. It will stay good for at least one month.
- Compare prices of fresh, frozen, and canned. At different times during the year, each of these may be the more affordable choice. Frozen fruits and vegetables are flash frozen at the peak of freshness, for the best quality. Canned products can often be rinsed to reduce salt.
- Shop locally. Farmers’ markets offer variety and the chance to get to know the person who grew the food!
CLEAN: Wash hands and surfaces often
SEPARATE: Separate raw meats from other foods
COOK: Cook to the right temperature
CHILL: Refrigerate food promptly
Remember to cook all turkey and chicken to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit
For more food safety information: www.foodsafety.gov
The Foodlink Food Hub
The United States Department of Agriculture defines a Food Hub as “a centrally located facility with a business management structure facilitating the aggregation, storage, processing, distribution and/or marketing of locally produced food products.” Most existing Food Hubs focus on helping small and mid-sized farmers access new markets to increase their profitability. Foodlink’s work maintains many of the same goals as the USDA Food Hubs, as we purchase and redistribute nearly two million pounds of local produce every year. The Foodlink Food Hub is unique, however, because our primary goal is to help underserved individuals and institutions access fresh, healthy, and affordable foods.
The core of our Food Hub is our warehouse facility at 1999 Mt. Read Blvd., where we have the capacity to distribute over 18 million pounds of food annually. Ancillary assets include industrial sized freezers and coolers, a fleet of trucks, and a commercial kitchen. This capacity allows us to purchase high-volumes of local product and redistribute to the 500 agencies in our network.
By being good stewards of our assets and resources, we can go “beyond food banking” and do more than redistribute food. This is how Foodlink has gone from Food Bank to Food Hub. Our consumer-driven food hub starts with food distribution, but it includes several programs and resources that increase food access and food literacy. They include
- Cooperative Purchasing
- Food Access Programs
- Farm to Institution Initiatives
- Farm to School (sliced apples)
- Value-Added Processing
- Prepared Meals
- SNAP outreach and education
- Nutrition Education
- Food Budgeting
- Menu-planning for agencies
Foodlink is using our assets and resources to be the regional Food Hub. We are using our strong partnerships with farmers to gather and distribute product throughout our 10-county service area. We are supporting farmers by purchasing surplus, unsold, and unharvested product. We are making this a hassle-free experience to ensure that quality local product reaches as many people as possible.
In addition, the Foodlink organization has remarkable assets and resources, such as:
936 Exchange Street:
- 100,000 square feet of space with:
- 32,000 cubic foot freezer with 210 pallet positions
- 40,000 cubic foot cooler with 170 pallet positions
- Thousands of cubic feet of dry storage space
- 5 loading docks
- Pallet jacks and forklifts
- Ample office space and
- Conference rooms
- Parking lot with 50 spaces
138 Joseph Avenue:
- 60,000 square feet of space
- Commercial kitchen
- Producing 3,500 meals per day for various organizations
- Also houses a private company dedicated to recycling food waste to Ethanol.
1999 Mt. Read Blvd:
- 80,000 square foot warehouse
- 3,700 square foot cooler
- 5,200 square foot freezer
- This building operates as our distribution center where we move 13 million pounds of food annually.
- 53-foot refrigerated tractor trailer
- Three 26-foot refrigerated straight trucks
- Four 22-foot refrigerated straight trucks
- One 14-foot refrigerated straight truck
- Two non-refrigerated pickup trucks
- Two non-refrigerated vans
- Foodlink is the food bank for 10 counties in western and central New York: Allegany, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming,Yates
Within our 10-county service area we partner with 500 human service agencies to move 16 million pounds of food annually. This requires sophisticated software and internal bandwidth for:
- Accounting and billing
Foodlink emphasizes the importance of workforce development throughout all activities. A Food Hub allows Foodlink to continue to train workers and create jobs in several different parts of the food system.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
WHAT IS SNAP?
SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, is a federal nutrition program that helps you stretch your food budget and buy healthy food. SNAP benefits can be used to purchase food at grocery stores, convenience stores, and some farmers’ markets and co-op food programs.
Local Departments of Human Services follow Department of Agriculture rules for determining SNAP eligibility based off of household composition, income, and some expenses (including child care for working adult and students, and medical expenses for seniors and people with disabilities)
130% of Poverty Gross Monthly Income
200% of Poverty Gross Monthly Income
For average households
For households with elderly or disabled member or for households with childcare costs
*Important note: the eligibility chart is for your own general knowledge. However, you are still encouraged to call Foodlink for a full prescreening to get a more accurate estimate on your SNAP eligibility.
Major changes went into effect for SNAP benefits on November 1, 2013. To read more about what you need to know, click here.
On November 18, 2013, many SNAP recipients in New York State received extra benefits. This was due to a class action lawsuit settlement. The settlement impacts those who had sanctions imposed against them between 2009 and 2012. To learn more about the settlement, click here.
The SNAP Outreach Program
The SNAP Outreach program aims to increase knowledge, access, benefits enrollment and the overall quality of the SNAP application process for clients in Foodlink’s service area through direct service, advocacy and partnership building. Foodlink’s SNAP Outreach program aims to increase program participation through direct service at our scheduled SNAP clinics, agency referrals for over the phone SNAP application assistance, and training and presentations for agencies to provide basic SNAP assistance. Clients that receive SNAP assistance from Foodlink do not have to travel to their local department of human services or complete their application on their own. Foodlink will do the footwork and ensure that clients’ applications are complete, accurate and timely so that clients will receive the proper amount of benefits in a seamless manner.
Click here for a list of our Outreach Clinics.
Don’t want to share information over the phone? Prefer in-person assistance but can’t make it to a SNAP Clinic? Foodlink’s SNAP Outreach Program now offers office hours. The SNAP Outreach and Assistance Coordinator accepts walk-ins and appointments for SNAP assistance, including prescreening, application assistance, and Dept. of Human Services document assistance at Foodlink’s headquarters at 1999 Mt Read Blvd.
8 am – 5 pm
8 am – Noon
Fridays *(except last Fridays)
8 am – 3 pm
For more information, contact Jerome Nathaniel at (585) 328-3380 ext 150 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
SNAP Outreach Training Program
The training program teaches agencies about the SNAP program and the variety of ways they can help increase participation. Training sessions are tailored around your own agency needs and can be done on an individual basis. Sessions can include but not limited to basic program information, training on application assistance, and training on pre-screening.
To learn more about SNAP training, contact our SNAP Outreach and Assistance Coordinator, Jerome Nathaniel : (585)328.3380 x150. or visit the Finger Lakes Volunteer Center to RSVP for a training here
Use Your SNAP Dollars at the Farmers Markets
It is easy to use your EBT card at your local farmers market to buy fresh produce, meats/fish, dairy, grains/breads/bakery items, honey/syrup, and plants/seeds that produce food. Find the EBT market near you!
Helping people get back to work.
Great things happen when people find jobs—they also find confidence, income, and the sustainable means to put food on the table.
Foodlink launched a job training program through our Value Added Processing initiative during the second shift at Freshwise Kitchen. Six participants have recently completed the four week training cycle and are preparing for job placement at one of the many food processing companies in our region. We are preparing to enroll six more participants for another cycle. This is one example of how Foodlink can lend the excess capacity of our resources to job training and work force development.
Foodlink also works with individuals through the Work Experience Program (WEP) every day in our food bank. The rerouting of the RTA bus line to include multiple stops at Foodlink’s Mt Read location has been instrumental in ensuring that Foodlink is an accessible partner in workforce development. Our WEP placement helps impart skills such as communication, timeliness, sense of urgency, and food industry standards. WEP participants are an important part of our day-to-day food banking and help us move over 6 million pounds of donated food each year.
We believe in helping not just the people we serve but the environment as well. Through several green iniatives, Foodlink is committed to reducing our carbon footprint and raising awareness on self-sustainability.
Green Living Technologies
Green Living Technologies (GLT) manufactures, designs, and installs vegetative green roofs and walls, and their patented technology for vertical growing and rooftop gardens is providing new horizons for our urban agriculture initiatives. Our partnership with GLT has enabled the installation of green walls at our facility on Joseph Avenue and Exchange Street. Click here to learn more about Green Living Technologies.
Foodlink is proud to partner with Sweet Beez, which utilizes Rochester’s abundant natural resources to save the declining honeybee population while simultaneously advancing the economic stability of the community. Sweet Beez’s mission is to create a vibrant urban community, empower community members, expand local economic development and protect the health and well-being of honeybees. This is done through outreach, community action and advocacy efforts. Sweet Beez is also focused on creating jobs through the local production of raw honey and development of agricultural skills. Click
here to learn more.