Foodlink this week announced the times and locations of 14 food distributions next week to assist food-insecure individuals and families who have been impacted by the federal government shutdown.
These special “SNAP Gap” distributions will serve approximately 3,500 households (250 per site) on a first-come first-served basis during the week of Feb. 18-23. Thousands of local families received their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for February weeks early due to the shutdown. As these families await their March benefits, many have had to stretch their food budgets or rely on Foodlink’s network of emergency food providers to help put food on the table. Federal government contractors who lost pay during a 35-day stretch from Dec. 22 to Jan. 25 also continue to feel the effects of the shutdown.
“While it appears we have avoided another government shutdown this week, thousands of our neighbors are still feeling the effects of the first one,” said Foodlink President/CEO Julia Tedesco. “To help those who are facing a real crisis at home, we have collaborated with the United Way and other community partners to coordinate these extra distributions to address the increased need in our region.”
Foodlink strategically chose the week of Feb. 18 to schedule extra distributions for two reasons: (1) SNAP benefits were last distributed Jan. 17-20, meaning that most families would have used their monthly allotment by now; and (2) School vacation week (Feb. 18-22) puts an additional burden on families that now have to provide two additional meals per child each day.
The United Way of Greater Rochester has been a vital partner throughout this process, providing funds, and recruiting additional volunteers for this community-wide effort. Other contributors included the ESL Charitable Foundation, Greater Rochester Health Foundation, Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation and the Rochester Area Community Foundation.
“What I’ve seen over the past few weeks is what Greater Rochester does best—neighbors rallying together to help neighbors,” said Jaime Saunders, President & CEO of United Way of Greater Rochester. “Nonprofits, businesses, the City of Rochester and Monroe County came together to lend support. Volunteers have been working tirelessly to sort and bag critical food for families. Our community has truly demonstrated the incredible good we can accomplish when we’re united. Thank you to our partners at Foodlink for leading this charge so that hundreds of people could come together to help thousands more.”
City of Rochester R Centers, as well as the Salvation Army, have agreed to host five Rochester-based distributions throughout the week.
“We appreciate Foodlink, the United Way and others stepping up to help Rochester families who are at risk of going hungry this month,” said Mayor Lovely A. Warren. “With school out of session, I’m glad our City R-Centers can contribute to this effort to ensure children get the nutrition they need.”
Foodlink reached out to its many food vendors and distributors to solicit donations to help fill pre-packed pantry boxes for those in need. Contributing organizations include: LiDestri Foods, M Fellinger, Bonduelle, Perfect Granola, Wegmans Food Markets, Kreher Family Farms, Orbaker’s Fruit Farm, Barilla, and the Food Bank of WNY. Additional product through the USDA’s TEFAP (The Emergency Food Assistance Program) was also requested, and Regional Distributors donated heavy-duty bags for packaging.
Foodlink and the United Way recruited additional volunteers to pack thousands of these pantry packs in the week leading up the distribution. Packs include: Frozen chickens, frozen vegetables, eggs, juice, apples, cereal, juice, pasta, marinara sauce, bread, oatmeal, granola bars, canned peaches, canned beans, split peas, canned vegetables, peanut butter, jelly and shelf-stable milk. The contents of each pack are expected to last approximately 3 days for a family of 4.
Next week’s food distributions will accommodate approximately 250 households each and will operate on a first-come, first served basis. There are no income requirements and no ID required, however name, address and household size will be recorded. Residents must be 18 or older to accept food, and distributions will take place rain or shine.
The public is encouraged to contact 2-1-1 LIFELINE to learn more about food assistance and other resources in their community.