Rosa Wims brings community together at annual Thanksgiving meal

Rosa Wims laughed, smiled and hugged her way through a snowy Monday afternoon in Rochester.

As the city prepared for the first major snowstorm of the season, Wims greeted more than 200 guests at her annual Rosa Wims Thanksgiving event at the Montgomery Neighborhood Center on Cady Street. Wims, 96, was hosting the event for the 34th time — with a little help from her friends.

PHOTO ALBUM: 34th annual Rosa Wims Thanksgiving

Foodlink, of course, has been a long-time friend of “Mother Wims” for decades. She was very close with Foodlink’s late founder Tom Ferraro (who’s son, John, attends the event annually), and she later served on the Board of Directors.

Wims has won numerous awards locally for her philanthropic efforts, and her focus on health care in Rochester’s low-income communities. She became the first black nurse’s aide at Rochester General Hospital, and later founded her own wellness center on Genesee Street. She’s left an indelible mark on the community, and it’s on full display each year around Thanksgiving.

“I’ve enjoyed it every year. It’s been a joy to me, and to see other people so happy,” Wims told News 10 NBC.

Foodlink’s kitchen staff played a large role in the event, preparing a majority of the food. Palmer’s donated the 14 turkeys, and the pies — apple, pumpkin and sweet potatoes — were provided by Special Touch Bakery — Foodlink’s neighbor on Mt. Read Boulevard. Regional Distributors provided supplies for the event, such as plastic cutlery and food containers. The menu included stuffing, collard greens, corn, green beans, rice, mashed potatoes and salad prepared by the Foodlink Community Kitchen.

D&C: Community Thanksgiving dinner for hundreds a 34-year tradition for Rosa Wims

This year, the entire Foodlink Career Fellowship Class of 2020 also took part. They helped prepare the dishes the week prior, and served it with a smile the day of. The Fellows are currently in the fourth month of the year-long culinary apprenticeship.

The guests truly appreciated the meal and the care that went into preparing it. Joan Parham told WXXI News:

“I think that something like this brings people together. And it shows that, yes, there are caring people who think about us in this community.”

Habitat for Humanity homeowners complete Foodlink Cooking Matters class

They have new homes, and now they have new skills and recipes to use in their new kitchens.

A six-week Cooking Matters course — led by Foodlink’s nurtrition education team in partnership with Flower City Habitat for Humanity — culminated Saturday, Nov. 2 with the final class. The program taught participants how to read and compare food labels, shop for healthy food items on a budget and safely prepare meals for their families. Excellus BlueCross BlueShield partnered with both organizations to provide financial support for the class.

PHOTOS: Check out our Facebook album from the final class!

Foodlink conducts dozens of Cooking Matters courses each year as a lead partner for the national Share Our Strength initiative. The curriculum is customized for various audiences, such as families, teens, parents and seniors. The class with Flower City Habitat for Humanity was a unique partnership with another local nonprofit.

“This was an exciting class for Foodlink, and one we were looking forward to hosting in our new Nutrition Center,” said Margaret Liljedahl, Foodlink’s Senior Manager for Nutrition Education. “Each Saturday, our educators shared valuable cooking and nutrition tips with Habitat’s newest homeowners – an engaging group that spanned generations.”

On Saturday, the participants helped prepare three recipes: Black Bean Brownies, Turkey Tacos, and Mango Salsa. One mother/daughter pairing had moved into their new home just two days prior. Another woman completed the program with her sister and her two daughters.

Keisha Betts said she appreciated learning healthier ways to prepare a meal and that the children really loved being involved in the cooking process (and the eating process, as well!).

“I cook all the time,” Betts said. “I enjoyed learning to make new, healthier meals.”

Another participant, Marshea Best, said she found the course useful in helping her make healthy choices when shopping for food and preparing meals.

“I learned techniques and how to choose less costly foods,” Best said. “I learned to make healthier meals, and make healthy choices using more fruits and vegetables, using whole wheat and adding dairy.”

One of Foodlink’s Eat Smart New York educators, Fatima Srayi, helped lead the class. On Saturday, she was joined by Foodlink’s Cooking Matters Coordinator, Cory Robinson.

“It was great meeting so many families and children in this class, and even greater to witness their nutrition and culinary journeys — and watch them try new, healthy foods,” Srayi said. “It was rewarding helping them transition into their new homes with new recipes to try and new skills to to apply in the kitchen.”

Monro makes holiday donations to Foodlink easy

Monro, Inc. has partnered with Foodlink heading into the holiday season to help fight hunger in our communities.

Customers can stop by any Monro or Mr. Tire auto service center with a non-perishable food or monetary donation between Nov. 12-26. Monro’s goal is donate the eqivalent of 25,000 meals to Foodlink. Customers can make a cash donation during a visit and ask the store manager to add $1, 3, or $5 to the invoice. Customers can also make a monetary donation without a purchase.

As a thank you from Monro, all participants will receive a coupon book worth $300 in savings on fall auto maintenance services, including oil changes, brakes, tire rotations and balancing, wheel alignments, and state inspections.

One of the reasons that Monro and its employees chose to partner with Foodlink before the holidays is that many families rely on school breakfast and lunch programs, and donations now help Foodlink assist families during school breaks. When school is in session, donations help provide a bag of food for a child to take home every weekend through Foodlink’s BackPack Program. Donations also help Curbside Market customers purchase bundles that contains twice the value of produce than fruits and vegetables purchased at the grocery store.

Headquartered in Rochester, Monro is one of the nation’s largest automotive service and retail tire companies, with 1, 271 stores in 30 states. Locally, Monro employs 500 teammates at its 31 Rochester-area stores and corporate headquarters at 200 Holleder Parkway. For directions to the nearest Monro or Mr. Tire auto service center, visit www.monro.com or www.mrtire.com. For more information on Monro, Inc., visit https://corporate.monro.com/.