‘F.E.A.S.T.’ fundraiser a huge success in its first year

Participating chefs gather around the event organizer, Chef Samantha Buyskes, before the start of F.E.A.S.T. at The Cracker Factory in Geneva on April 24, 2018.

What a F.E.A.S.T.!

The inaugural F.E.A.S.T. in the Heart of the Finger Lakes was held April 24, welcoming an enthusiastic — and hungry — crowd to The Cracker Factory in Geneva. The Foodlink fundraiser was championed and organized by Chef Samantha Buyskes of H.J. Stead Co. and 3 Brothers Wineries. 

More than 200 people, including the staffs of 18 vendors, gathered for the event, which featured a V.I.P. pre-event, followed by the main event between 6 and 8 p.m. 

Exploring Upstate blog: Recap of the event

Photos: Facebook album

The Cracker Factory at 35 Lehigh St. in Geneva.

Featured vendors included: FLX Foodies, Karma Sauce, Newbury Park Pastries, HJ Stead Co., 3 Brothers Winery, Knapp Winery and Vineyard Restaurant, Veraisons Restaurant at Glenora Wine Cellars, Eat me Ice Cream, Foodlink/Finger Lakes Eat Smart New York, Wegmans, Linden Social Club, Halsey’s Restaurant, Schraders Meats, Park Inn, Stan’s Waterloo, Muranda Cheese Co., Red Jacket and Lively Run.

Two bands were featured at the event: Not From Wisconsin, and Cool Club and the Lipker Sisters.

Foodlink is grateful to Buyskes and the amazing owners of The Cracker Factory for their kindness and support in planning this event. Guests seemed pleased with the setting and delicious sampling of foods, and were hopeful for its return in 2019. 

We couldn’t agree more!


Foodlink, anti-hunger advocates react to House Farm Bill

On Thursday, the long-awaited House Farm Bill, entitled the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, was released by House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX). As expected, the House’s version of this vital piece of legislation, which typically is reauthorized every five years, took aim at cutting and restructuring the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly called food stamps.

Key changes include aggressive new work requirements imposed on low-income households, eligibility changes that would remove approximately 1 million Americans from the program, and funding for job training programs that cannot adequately meet the need of those they intend to benefit. Below is a well-written piece from the Washington Post that captures both sides of the debate:

Washington Post: GOP proposes stricter work requirements for food stamp recipients, a step toward a major overhaul of the social safety net

Below is a statement from Foodlink Executive Director Julia Tedesco in response to the proposed legislation:

“The House Farm Bill released Thursday, which includes unnecessary and cruel changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, will strip vital food assistance away from millions of food-insecure individuals and families, including thousands in the Rochester region. SNAP is our country’s preeminent anti-hunger and anti-poverty program. For every meal that our nationwide network of food banks provides, SNAP provides 12 more. The restrictive work requirements proposed in this legislation will ironically harm countless working families, and reduce or eliminate assistance to vulnerable populations, such as seniors and those who experience significant barriers to employment.

In drafting this legislation without input from their Democratic colleagues, House Republicans also failed to learn from past mistakes regarding work-requirement policies for programs such as TANF, and chose to ignore active, ongoing studies to explore the efficacy of this very issue. Foodlink is supportive of increased financial support for job-training programs aimed at lifting people out of poverty. The funding allocated for states to implement these programs, however, falls well short of what is required to ensure people obtain meaningful job-training skills. 

We are hopeful that the Senate will take a more dignified, research-based and bipartisan approach to this legislation, which has far-reaching implications on those who struggle daily to put food on the table. Rochester-area families deserve a Farm Bill that strengthens SNAP, and supports the tenet that food is a basic human right, and nobody in this country of abundance should go hungry.” 

CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE: Urge them to oppose the House Farm Bill

Myriad anti-hunger advocates and organizations have condemned this proposal. Here is a sampling of reaction throughout the country, and links to their complete statements:

  • Feeding America, the national network of food banks and the nation’s largest domestic anti-hunger relief organization.

“The inescapable reality is that SNAP cuts would have a boat-swamping effect on our network, and changes of this magnitude to an efficient and sound program would set the fight against hunger back in communities across our country.” – Matt Knott, President


“The proposals in this bill would lead to greater hunger and poverty among all types of beneficiary families, including the working poor, as well as reduced economic growth and productivity in communities across the country.” – Jim Weill, President


“The bottom line is this farm bill will make hunger worse in America. This farm bill does not represent my values or the values of the people I represent. America’s farmers and the American people deserve so much better.”


“… in the more than 40 years that I have been working on issues related to low-income assistance programs and work, these are among the most poorly designed work-related proposals that I’ve seen at any time.” – Bob Greenstein, CBPP President


  • MAZON, a national advocacy organization working to end hunger among people of all faiths and backgrounds

“U.S. House Committee on Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway and his Republican colleagues want to reclassify SNAP as a workforce development program in an ideologically driven bid to vilify the poor and kick people off the program.” – Abby J. Leibman, President & CEO


Cocktails for a cause: ‘Pair and share’ event raises funds for Foodlink

The bar at Branca Midtown, which is offering a “BBQ Old Fashioned” drink to patrons in support of Foodlink.

Throughout the month of April, the gracious folks at Woodford Reserve (a brand of Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey) have linked up with some outstanding local restaurants and bars for what they are calling a “Pair and Share” fundraiser. 

For every designated Woodford cocktail sold at participating establishments for the month of April, Woodford Reserve will donate $1 to Foodlink — up to $5,000. 

Below is the list of participating places, and the specialty cocktails they are offering:

Cocktail: “Why Bother” (Woodford Rye, pomegranate liqueur, grapefruit juice, cava)

Cocktail: “Run Rabbit Run” (Woodford Rye, amaro, green apple liqueur)

Cocktail: “The Villager” (Woodford Reserve, Grand Marnier, sweet vermouth, black walnut butters)

Cocktail: “BBQ Old Fashioned” (Woodford Reserve, BBQ seasonings)

Cocktail: “As Luck Wood Have It” (Woodford Reserve, rosemary, almond, lime)

Cocktail: “Woodford Palmer” (Woodford Reserve, lemonade, iced tea)

Cocktail: “The Colonel” (Woodford Reserve, Amaro Nonino, sweet basil, black tea, lemon)

Cocktail: Boulevardier (Woodford Reserve, sweet vermouth, Campari)



Blaze Pizza celebrates new store in Henrietta, pledges Grand Opening sales to Foodlink!

The Blaze Pizza promotional flyer, promoting its Grand Opening campaign with Foodlink.

Order some pizza. Name your price. Support Foodlink. (Then eat the pizza.)

Pretty simple, right?

Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza has announced the Grand Opening celebration of its new Henrietta store, and has graciously selected Foodlink as the local beneficiary for its “Donation Day” event.

Blaze Pizza is a community-minded organization that makes it a point to support local organizations that work diligently to better the lives of their neighbors. As part of its ongoing commitment to the Monroe County community, Blaze Pizza (1100 Jefferson Road) will host a Donation Day from 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 11. During that time, guests will be able to pay whatever they’d like for their meal, and 100 percent of proceeds will be donated to Foodlink. 

FACEBOOK: Event page for Blaze Pizza ‘Donation Day’

“Blaze Pizza is so excited to welcome the public to our restaurant to support Foodlink. Foodlink is a fantastic organization that distributed 17.4 million pounds of food in 2017, and we’re proud to help them continue that great work,” said Chad Tooley, general manager of Blaze Pizza in Henrietta. “This Donation Day will give our new neighbors in Henrietta the opportunity to experience our delicious menu while giving back to a good cause. It’s sure to be a great day, and we encourage members of the community to stop by to enjoy a great meal and show their support.”

Blaze Pizza is known for its custom-built artisanal pizzas, freshly made salads, blood orange lemonade and s’more pies since it opened its first location in 2012. Each restaurant features an interactive open-kitchen format that allows guests to customize one of the menu’s signature pizzas or create their own, choosing from a wide selection of carefully sourced, high-quality ingredients – all for around $8. The 11-inch pizzas are then sent to a blazing hot open-flame oven – the centerpiece of the restaurant – where dedicated “pizzasmiths” ensure that the thin-crust pies are fast-fire’d and ready to eat in just 180 seconds.

There are now 265 restaurants in 40 states, Canada and Kuwait. Founded by Elise and Rick Wetzel (co-founder of Wetzel’s Pretzels), the concept is backed by private equity firm Brentwood Associates and founding investors that include LeBron James, Maria Shriver, movie producer John Davis and Boston Red Sox co-owner Tom Werner.

The Henrietta restaurant, which opened in March, is located at 1100 Jefferson Road. At least one Foodlink representative will be stationed there all day on the 11th, so stop in, say hi, grab some delicious pizza and support Foodlink!