State awards Foodlink $200K to help strengthen, support local agriculture

The Shop-Thru area inside Foodlink’s distribution center will be renovated in the coming year.

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Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced more than $1 million in state funding to support agricultural development in the Genesee Valley and across the state, with a large portion of that money headed to Foodlink’s Mt. Read Boulevard headquarters. 

The funding approved by the Genesee Valley Regional Market Authority includes seven projects, including Foodlink’s proposal to purchase equipment and make renovations that will enhance value-added processing operations at its regional food hub.

“Produce has been an exciting and deliberate area of growth for Foodlink in recent years and we’re honored to receive grant funding through the Market Authority so we can continue to move more fresh, local fruits and vegetables into our underserved communities,” said Mitch Gruber, Chief Programs Officer at Foodlink. 

Foodlink’s application, more specifically, included improvements to the “Shop-Thru” area of its distribution center, where partner agencies visit to pick up their food orders. Foodlink’s goal is to renovate the space and make it more welcoming with the look and feel of a produce section at a grocery store. By doing this, Foodlink hopes to move more, local produce out the door, to agencies that serve clients in need. 

The funding will also help Foodlink invest in more slicing equipment for the Value-Added Processing Center in its new commercial kitchen. Foodlink already has a robust apple-slicing operation underway, but aims to diversify its products in the coming years. By doing this, Foodlink is supporting the local, agricultural economy by opening up new markets, and processing more healthy food and snacks for underserved communities. 

“Agriculture remains a core pillar of New York’s economy, and the greater Genesee Valley region is one of our most vibrant agricultural areas, supporting thousands of farms and agribusinesses,” Governor Cuomo said. “These strategic investments in research, facilities, and training are a key part of the Finger Lakes Forward and Southern Tier Soaring blueprints and are essential to the success of the agricultural industry and its future growth.”

Agriculture supports thousands of jobs in the Genesee Valley, and is one of the key areas of investment in both the Southern Tier Soaring and Finger Lakes Forward regional economic development plans.

The Authority has awarded more than $7.5 million to 67 projects in the Genesee Valley through the Agriculture Development Grant Program since 2011.

Other recent project winners this year include: Cornell University’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station ($260,000); New York Wine & Culinary Center ($250,000); New York Wine & Grape Foundation ($200,000); Cornell Agriculture and Food Technology Park Corporation (The Technology Farm) ($84,527); Northeastern Juice Cooperative ($50,000); Western NY Maple Producers ($37,323).

Brendan Tydings, Genesee Valley Regional Market Authority Administrator, said, “The Genesee Valley Regional Market Authority is dedicated to supporting local agriculture. This is a really positive program and we are thrilled to invest in important projects that will benefit the agricultural industry.”

Foodlink’s Value-Added Processing Center.

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