Foodlink, Excellus celebrate partnership at Lexington Ave. Urban Farm

Mitch Gruber, Chief Progams Officer at Foodlink, gives an interview at the Lexington Avenue Urban Farm on Sept. 8, 2017.

On Sept. 8, Foodlink and Excellus BlueCross BlueShield celebrated a growing partnership focused on improving food access and health outcomes in the Rochester region.

Excellus and Foodlink hosted a press event at the Lexington Avenue Urban Farm, which will soon be the site of a new, natural play space. Construction will start soon on the area, which received funding through the 2017 Excellus Community Health Awards. 

“Foodlink is grateful that Excellus BCBS has partnered with us to improve food access in our region, both through the Lexington Avenue Urban Farm, and our Curbside Market,” said Foodlink Executive Director Julia Tedesco. “We’re excited to provide dozens of families with a safe space for children to play, and our newest Curbside truck has helped Foodlink distribute even more produce in neighborhoods where fresh fruits and vegetables are less accessible.”

The play space will feature many natural elements, and might not look like a conventional playground. The play space will include logs, stepping stones and “willow tunnels.” Items such as kick balls and hula hoops will encourage physical activity, along with a painted tire play area.

A rendering of the new play space at the Lexington Avenue Urban Farm. Construction will take place this fall.

Excellus also provided crucial funding for the newest vehicle in the Curbside Market fleet. A newer fleet results in more reliable service, which allows Foodlink to reach more sites, serve more customers and sell more nutritious food in low-income/low-access communities. 

The addition of the new vehicle has helped Foodlink increase the number of people it serves through its Curbside trucks by about 35 percent. The Curbside Market made more than 4,100 transactions in July of 2017, compared to almost 3,100 in July of 2016.

“Good nutrition is the key to good health, yet too many people in our communities don’t have access to affordable fruits and vegetables,” said Holly Snow, Director of Community Health Engagement, Excellus BCBS. “As we work to build healthier communities, we must find ways to combat hunger and Foodlink has found innovative ways to do just that.”

Holly Snow, Director of Community Health Engagement at Excellus BCBS, speaks to the media on Sept. 8.

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