When a natural disaster strikes, it’s common for food banks to mobilize to meet the rising food needs of a community as rebuilding efforts get underway and lives get pieced back together.
The devastation in Puerto Rico has resulted in a full-scale effort by the Feeding America network to help the island clean up in the wake of Hurricane Maria. For some, staying on the island was not an option. Rochester, home to an already strong Puerto Rican community, became their new home — at least temporarily.
The Rochester City School District is trying to welcome these families — about 35 of them –with open arms by inviting them to Saturday’s Latino Parent Conference, an event organized by the district’s Office of Parent Engagement and the Bilingual Education Council. Foodlink was approached with the opportunity to provide basic food items for these families, and delivered those baskets to the David F. Gantt Center on Friday afternoon.
“We would like to provide some of the families with a few needed resources and we would like them to feel welcome to our district and community,” said Maria Encarnacion with the RCSD’s Office of Parent Engagement.
Foodlink baskets included several staple items, such as cereal, pasta, sauce, peanut butter, raisins and other snack items. Blankets and Wegmans gift cards were also included. Volunteers from The Arc of Monroe helped assemble the baskets on Friday morning at Foodlink’s distribution center.
“Helping these families was a no-brainer for us,” said Chief Programs Officer Mitch Gruber. “We can’t imagine the hardships that so many Puerto Rican families have faced this past month and we hope these baskets allow our newest neighbors to adjust to life in Rochester a little easier.”
Since Maria caused widespread devastation in Puerto Rico and Dominica, Foodlink has engaged with local groups’ hunger relief efforts, and has sent food and supplies to both areas.
Saturday’s event is at 11 a.m. at the Gantt Center (700 North St.), where Latino parents can learn ways to support their children’s education. There will be student performances, door prizes, food and a raffle. Transportation and child care is available if requested. Contact the Office of Parent Engagement for more information: (585) 262-8334.