Progress Report: Community Kitchen update (August)

Inside Foodlink's new Community Kitchen.

Inside Foodlink’s new Community Kitchen.

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For a split second, I lost my tour guide.

While I fiddled with my phone, he walked through a doorway, around a corner and was gone. It was brief and it was uneventful, but it was also telling of recent progress made in Foodlink’s Community Kitchen.

Yes, if you’re looking for a pretty clear indicator of how much our 28,000-square-foot space has transformed in the last month, it’s the fact that one could, potentially, get lost in it. What was once the worst hide-and-seek venue around, is now a maze of hallways, doorways and rooms.

Even better, we’re starting to get a sneak peek at some of the fancy equipment that will help our staff serve up even more nutritious meals and slice more local apples for Rochester’s children. The automated apple-slicing line, simply put, is massive. Although it is still sitting in our distribution center in pieces, one colleague told me it looked like a dinosaur, while another compared it to a dragon. It’s a sight to behold.

One piece of our new apple-slicing line.

One piece of our new apple-slicing line.

The crane at work on Aug. 4 at Foodlink.

The crane at work on Aug. 4 at Foodlink.

And speaking of big, a crane visited Foodlink on Aug. 4 to lift vital pieces of kitchen equipment onto our rooftop. Refrigerator condensers, HVAC systems and other mechanical equipment are now ready to go.

Other new developments include:

  • The construction of our various coolers and freezers, for which 70 percent of the panels have been installed.
  • Most of the walls have been framed, dry-walled and insulated. The last step is what is called “fiberglass-reinforced plastic” (FRP) panels, which are often installed in facilities with a high demand for hygiene and durability.
  • Massive kitchen hoods, which provide proper ventilation, are in place.
  • Ninety percent of all duct work is complete and nearly all of the electrical wiring is done.
The ventilation hoods have been installed in the main kitchen area.

The ventilation hoods have been installed in the main kitchen area.

Foodlink’s Community Kitchen is starting to look like a kitchen. It’s a project that will do amazing things for Foodlink, Rochester, and our neighbors in need. As Chief Program Officer Mitch Gruber put it, “there’s nothing that is more impactful than a kitchen that can serve healthy meals to kids in low-income households and employ people to do that very work.”

(You can listen to those words in the first installment in what will be a series of video shorts from Foodlink staff members on our Facebook page and on Twitter.)

 Watching the Community Kitchen transform month by month since our groundbreaking is a privilege. Even if it means getting lost once in a while.

The opening in this wall is where apples will enter our Community Kitchen. The opening in this wall is where apples will enter our Community Kitchen.

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