Bank of America pledges support to Foodlink to aid COVID-19 Response

Bank of America has pledged to help Foodlink’s COVID-19 response efforts to support food-insecure families.

Since the public health crisis began to impact the Rochester region, Foodlink has worked with countless community partners to serve food-insecure families throughout its 10-county service area. Our two areas of concentration – beyond our day-to-day food banking operations – include (1) Preparing healthy meals for children impacted by school closures in Rochester; and (2) Assembling emergency food supply boxes for households throughout our service area.

Bank of America’s $40,000 contribution provides critical technology and equipment upgrades, and equates to 7,690 healthy meals for children, or 1,760 emergency food supply boxes for households. Since mid-March, Foodlink has prepared more than 130,000 meals and has assembled more than 35,000 boxes for the community.

Bank of America has partnered with Foodlink in the past by providing local volunteer support and fundraising campaigns through their ongoing partnership with Feeding America. The annual Give-A-Meal campaign – a 2-for-1 matching campaign – has raised tens of thousands of dollars for Foodlink over the past several years.

Happy Volunteer Appreciation Month!

Foodlink and the entire Feeding America network of 200+ food banks always cherishes the month of April because we get to boast about our wonderful volunteers.

It’s Volunteer Appreciation Month! And this week in particular (April 20-24), is Volunteer Appreciation Week!

Volunteers donate their time, energy, and skills toward our mission of ending hunger and building healthier communities. Their support allows us to continue to serve individuals and families in need across our 10-county service area. We are so grateful to the thousands of volunteers who play such a critical role in our operations year after year.

This year, though, things are a little different.

The COVID-19 pandemic that has spread across our area, closed schools and businesses, canceled events and altered the way we communicate with one another has forced Foodlink to make some tough decisions. We suspended several progams, and the volunteer opportunities that supported them. We reduced the capacity of others, and introduced several new safety precautions to mitigate the spread of the virus in our communities. We appreciate everyone’s patience and flexibility during this unprecedented time.

We have been thrilled to see so many new and familiar faces assist with our COVID-19 Response efforts. To date, volunteer support has been critical to helping us:

  • Assemble more than 35,000 Emergency Food Supply Boxes
  • Pack more than 15,000 bags for our BackPack Program.
  • Assist at more than 25 drive-thru food distributions

Collectively, volunteers have donated more than 3,600 hours to support our mission! That’s the equivalent of about 18 full-time staff members!

To ALL of the volunteers who have supported us this past year, and during recent weeks under difficult circumstances, thank you for supporting our mission to helping individuals who need our help. We could not do this important work without you.

SNAP recipients getting additional funds this month

Foodlink and Monroe County’s Department of Human Services are spreading the word about extra money appearing on SNAP EBT cards during the month of April.

This “Emergency Assistance” SNAP was approved through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act back in March (the second of three major stimulus bills passed by Congress). For people who received SNAP in March and/or April, they will receive extra benefits between April 13-24.

How much?

Congress approved households getting the maximum allotment for BOTH months. For example, if an individual (household size = 1) received a normal monthly allotment of $100, they would be eligible to receive an additional $94 for EACH month (total = $188).

See the charts above and below, and visit the Office of Temporary Disability Assistance website for a helpful FAQ about EA SNAP.

DOWNLOAD: Printable flyer in English & Spanish

Community mobilizes to move Foodlink volunteer operations to new facility

Foodlink on Friday relocated volunteer operations from the Rochester Riverside Convention Center to 2600 Manitou Road. Monroe County and United Way of Greater Rochester rallied local organizations to support the relocation, including Wegmans and the Teamsters Local 118, Greater Rochester Enterprise and Acquest Realty.

“Opening up the Convention Center will allow our community to have the space and flexibility necessary should we need to move quickly to expand capacity for our healthcare providers,” said County Executive Bello. “We are so grateful to Wegmans, the Teamsters Local 118 and others for working quickly to help Foodlink move to a safe, spacious place to continue its critical operations.”

“Having access to a spacious, off-site facility where volunteers can safely pack food to meet the increased need in our communities has been critical to our COVID-19 Response efforts,” said Julia Tedesco, President & CEO of Foodlink. “This could not have happened without the support from so many. Collaborating with United Way, Monroe County, Wegmans, the Teamsters Local 118, Greater Rochester Enterprise, Acquest Realty and others helps ensure we can put food on the table for thousands of families in the Rochester region during this difficult time.”

More than 500 volunteers have assisted Foodlink at the Convention Center since mid-March. During the nearly four weeks in the space, Foodlink volunteers packed more than 10,000 bags of food for its BackPack Program, and 30,000 emergency food supply boxes that were distributed through Foodlink’s existing network of more than 100 hunger-relief partners, and at 24 drive-thru food distributions throughout our region.

“This crisis has brought to the forefront the power of what good can happen when we work together, unified in new and different ways,” says Jaime Saunders, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Rochester. “Within 48 hours so many partners came together to support Foodlink from our United Way team to Monroe County staff to drivers at Wegmans and the Teamsters – all to ensure community needs continued to be met without disruption.”

“We are so thankful for all our employees who continue to rise to the occasion to serve, inspire, and care for our communities during this difficult time,” said Linda Lovejoy, Wegmans community relations manager. “We are proud to come together with others in our community to help with the incredible efforts of these organizations.”

“This community is strong, resilient, and determined, and we’re much stronger when we work together,” said Paul Markwitz, President of Teamsters Local 118. “The Teamsters are proud to utilize our resources and skills to help our community overcome the impacts of this pandemic.”

Foodlink will open up new volunteer shifts next week through the United Way volunteer portal to help pack bags for its BackPack Program, and assemble the next round of 10,000 emergency food supply boxes for food-insecure households throughout our region.

Support local amid challenging times for local food & drink industry

The COVID-19 pandemic has rocked the restaurant industry, forcing many to adapt to a brand new business model (e.g. Curbside pickup), suspend operations, lay off staff and/or close completely. According to Restaurant.org, since March 1, the industry has lost more than 3 million jobs and $25 billion in sales, and roughly 50% of restaurant operators anticipate having to lay off more people in April.

DONATE: Restaurant Workers Community Foundation COVID-19 Relief Fund

MORE: Eater.com lists other ways to help

Foodlink has many connections to the local food industry, including some collaborative partnerships established with the launch of the Foodlink Career Fellowship — our one-of-a-kind culinary training program. Below is a short list of some of our key partners, and how you can support them during these challenging times:

Foodlink strongly recommends following local guidelines from the county health department on staying home as much as possible to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We know, however, that purchasing food is essential, and we hope you’ll consider supporting some of the local businesses and their workers above.

Help ‘flatten the curve’ … Covid-19 guidelines from the Monroe County Dept. of Health

Courtesy of the Monroe County Department of Health, we’re sharing some of the key guidelines and recommendations for the community to help “flatten the curve” and get through the Covid-19 pandemic:

“Do your part”

  • It’s up to all of us to help protect our families, friends and neighbors.
  • It’s not easy, but staying home is the most important way you can do your part.
  • If you have to go out, do your part by staying six feet away from others.

“Stay home”

  • Staying home is the best thing you can do to protect yourself and your family.
  • Staying home means you’re helping stop the spread.
  • Staying home means you could help save lives.
  • The only reason to not stay home is going out for groceries, medicine or other essentials, work at an essential job, volunteering with a nonprofit, or to see a doctor. That’s it. And always stay 6 feet apart.
  • Having friends and family over is not OK right now – you could spread the virus to people you care about.
  • Staying home and staying away from others is essential if you are sick – even if you don’t think it is COVID-19.
  • So please, stay home unless you absolutely can’t.

“Stay six feet apart”

  • If you have to leave your home, make sure you stay six feet away from others.
  • Assume everyone has the virus, even if they don’t seem sick, and stay six feet away to avoid catching it.
  • If you’re not sure how far six feet is, imagine two arm’s lengths, or about the length of a full-size bed.

FAQ’s

There are many questions about COVID-19. Below are some of the most common, along with answers that have been vetted by public health officials.

What does social distancing mean?

Social distancing is deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness. Staying at least six feet away from other people lessens your chances of catching COVID-19.

Can I visit my relatives or friends?

Do not visit loved ones in person. Use the phone or other electronic devices. Deliver food or other essential items to the doorstep.

How can I keep safe when I need to go out for essential items like food?

• Make as few trips as possible.
• Shop and return home as quickly as possible.
• Make a list in advance.
• Consider using delivery services or the self-checkout lane.
• Wipe down the shopping cart, touch screens and touch pads before and after use.

What if we are outside?


• Avoid close contact with people, even when outside.
• Keep at least 6 feet apart to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
• Avoid games and activities that require close contact.
• Avoid frequently touched surfaces and objects. This includes playground equipment like slides and swings.
• Do not share equipment such as bicycles, helmets, balls or frisbees.
• Do not gather in groups.
• When you return indoors, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.