VP Supply makes $20K holiday gift to Foodlink

This holiday season, VP Supply Corp felt compelled to step away from a decades-old tradition in order to maximize its long-standing commitment to good will.

Their annual turkey giveaway was always a hit with customers of the Rochester-based wholesale plumbing, HVAC, renewable energy, kitchen and bath supply company. This year, however, VP Supply wanted to redirect those funds to help more families in need. They turned to Foodlink.

Secretary/Treasurer Louis Curwin toured Foodlink on Nov. 7, and within a week had already selected a day to join his colleagues for a day of volunteering, and committed to donate $20,000. On Wednesday, VP Supply employees spent the morning at Foodlink to present the check and sort food during a volunteer shift.

“We’ve been around more than 50 years, and my dad, Elliot, and his partner Marv Miller — from the very beginning — had always emphasized the importance of giving back to the community,” Curwin said. “We did our homework and know that Foodlink is a wonderful organization committed to helping those in need and we’re honored to partner with them this holiday season.”

VP Supply Corp has more than 15 locations across New York State, which includes its corporate office in Rochester, and operations in Dansville and Holley – both of which are in Foodlink’s 10-county service area. For sites in other parts of the state, VP Supply has identified nonprofits such as the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York (Albany), the Calvary Food Pantry (Auburn) and the Open Door Mission (Glens Falls) for additional donations.

Foodlink’s purchasing power and 90,000-square-foot warehouse allows it to leverage VP Supply’s donation, and distribute more than 60,000 meals during a critical time of year.

“This is an impressive act of kindness,” said Heather Newton, Foodlink’s Director of Development and Community Engagement. “We are grateful for VP’s support during the holiday season and look forward to growing this partnership in the years to come. We’re also especially thankful for their volunteering help – as we’ve received numerous food donations in recent weeks and need all of the helping hands we can get to make sure it’s sorted, inspected and ready to distribute to those in need.”

It’s butternut squash season! Here’s what you need to know

By Martha Wasserbauer
Foodlink dietetic intern from Cornell University 

With the fall season in full swing, a variety of colorful squashes, gourds, and pumpkins can be found at most markets in the area. Winter squash and pumpkins are often used as decorations to celebrate autumn, but did you know that many varieties are edible and are a great source of nutrition?

Winter squash are high in alpha- and beta-carotene, both of which are forms of vitamin A that support eye, skin, and immune system health. They also contain high levels of vitamin C, which fights free radicals and supports cell healing and repair. Most winter squashes provide around 6 grams of dietary fiber per cup, which provides about 25% of most people’s recommended daily needs. Squash and pumpkins are good sources of folate, potassium, and antioxidants, which help prevent chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

Edible pumpkins and squash are easy to store and have a long shelf-life, due to their tough and protective skins. They do not need to be refrigerated, but should ideally be stored in a cool, dark environment to give them a shelf-life of at least one month.

When purchasing winter squash and pumpkins, choose squash that have a hard, intact skin without bruises, cuts, or mold. 1 pound of raw squash or pumpkin will yield about 1 cup when cooked and/or mashed.

There are a variety of methods for cooking edible squash and pumpkins. To boil or steam, peel and cube squash, place in a pot, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil or put in a steamer basket and cook until soft. Try baking squash by cutting in half lengthwise, removing the seeds, and placing in the oven on a baking sheet at around 400 degrees F.

How to Peel and Cut a Butternut Squash

1. Using a heavy chef’s knife, cut off 1/4 – 1/2 inch from the top of the squash at the stem end.

2. Cut off about 1/2 inch from the bottom of the squash. 

3. Use a sharp vegetable peeler to remove the skin from the squash. *If you do not have a sharp peeler, you can go to the next step and cut the squash in half. Then, use the knife to slice off the peel while standing each squash up vertically.  

4. Lay the squash on its side and cut it in half at the neck where the squash begins to curve.

5. Place each squash half on its flat end and cut in half vertically. You should end up with 4 squash quarters. Using a spoon, scrape out the seeds.

6. Lay the flat side of each squash quarter on the cutting board and cut into 1/2 – 1 inch slices. Repeat with each squash quarter.

7. Cut the slices crosswise into cubes. The smaller the pieces, the faster they will cook. 

RECIPE: Holiday Roasted Butternut Squash

Serving Size – Serves 6, ¾ cup per serving


• 2 pounds butternut squash

• ¼ cup walnuts

• 2 tablespoons canola oil

• 1 teaspoon dried sage

• ¼ teaspoon salt

• ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

• 1 tablespoon butter or canola oil

• ¼ cup dried cranberries

• 1 ½ tablespoons maple syrup



1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. Rinse and peel squash. Cut off ends and discard. Cut squash at the neck, creating a narrow end and a round end. Cut round end in half and scoop out seeds with a spoon. Cut both ends into ¾-inch, even-sized cubes.

3. Coarsely chop walnuts. Set aside.

4. In a large bowl, add squash. Toss with oil, sage, salt, and ground black pepper.

5. Spread squash evenly on a baking sheet. Roast, stirring once until tender, about 35 minutes.

6. In a small skillet over medium heat, melt butter or heat oil. Add walnuts and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in cranberries and maple syrup.

7. Gently toss cooked squash with cranberry mixture.


Winter squash. United States Department of Agriculture website. Updated November 8, 2017. Accessed November 9, 2017. 

Swartzendruber K. Enjoy the taste and health benefits of winter squash. Michigan State University Extension website. Published September 24, 2012. Accessed November 9, 2017.

How to peel and cut a butternut squash. Gimme Some Oven website. Published November 29, 2016. Accessed November 9, 2017.

Lucarelli K. Holiday roasted butternut squash. Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters website. Accessed November 9, 2017.

Annual produce & protein distribution: By the numbers

Onions and sweet potatoes line the racks of Foodlink’s distribution center in early November.

Each year, Foodlink provides a free holiday produce and protein distribution to about 100 local emergency food providers. Our warehouse is filling up with mountains of hearty, fall produce and we’re ready to start delivering orders. 

Here’s a breakdown of what we’ll be distributing throughout November and December to 110 pantries and soup kitchens in our service area:


  • 23,233 roaster chickens


  • 17,549 bags of apples
  • 18,055 bags of onions
  • 18,328 bags of potatoes
  • 13,840 bags of sweet potatoes
  • 1,825 cases of squash