Check Out Hunger, a critical fundraiser for Foodlink, is now underway at 21 area Wegmans stores.
The annual campaign began Oct. 18 and will run through Nov. 28. Shoppers have the opportunity to donate a few dollars – or round up their grocery bill – while in the checkout line at all Rochester-area stores. The campaign raised nearly $700,000 last year for Foodlink to help fund many of its food-related programs, and support its food-banking operations across its 10-county service area.
“Putting food on the table continues to be a challenge for too many of our neighbors, with a 45 percent rise in food insecurity projected for our region,” said Julia Tedesco, President & CEO of Foodlink. “Our response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been fueled by the generosity of our supporters. Wegmans’ Check Out Hunger campaign is just another example of how the community can rally around our mission.”
Wegmans began its Check Out Hunger campaign in 1993, and has raised more than $43.2 million for participating food banks – $13+ million for Foodlink alone.
“Each year, our customers give generously during Check Out Hunger to help end hunger in their neighborhoods,” said Wegmans Community Relations Manager Linda Lovejoy. “The pandemic has heightened demand for the resources available through Foodlink, and all our food bank partners, who depend on our checkout donation programs to fund vital food programs in their communities.”
Since March, Foodlink has already distributed more than 17 million pounds of food and prepared more than 550,000 meals for school-age children to meet the rise in need in the Rochester region.
The Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) – the premier national nonprofit working to transform the food landscape in pursuit of health equity – today announced an expansion of its COVID-19 Fresh Food Fund to Rochester in partnership with Foodlink. This partnership represents an expansion of PHA’s COVID-19 Fresh Food Fund, which first launched in Denver and has already provided 650,000 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables to communities economically impacted by COVID-19.
“Foodlink is honored to be selected as the second city nationally to provide access to the Partnership of a Healthier America’s COVID-19 Fresh Food Fund,” said Julia Tedesco, President & CEO of Foodlink. “The partnership was a natural fit for our Curbside Market, which has an already impressive track record of increasing access to healthy foods in underserved communities.”
Through the COVID-19 Fresh Food Fund, Foodlink has made available boxes of fresh produce — labeled Fresh Picks — at subsidized rates on their Curbside Market, a mobile farmers market for communities throughout Rochester and the Finger Lakes region with limited access to fresh produce. Each box contains approximately 10 pounds of fresh, high-quality produce, alongside high-impact print and digital nutrition resources. Each Fresh Picks site will be staffed by ambassadors trained in helping customers to learn how to use these digital tools, and promoting access to the program.
“One of the core goals of the COVID-19 Fresh Food Fund is to showcase the unmet demand for fresh fruits and vegetables in disadvantaged communities and to work with retailers to provide increased access to produce in those communities,” said Nancy E. Roman, President and CEO of Partnership for a Healthier America. “The COVID-19 Fresh Food Fund, in conjunction with Foodlink’s Curbside Market, fills a critical short-term need, but the learnings will help drive our long-term vision as well.”
The COVID-19 Fresh Food Fund was created in partnership with the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) and, in Rochester, is funded by a grant from the New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth), Wegmans, and individual donors throughout the country. The program links fruits and vegetables, which may have otherwise gone to waste, to communities experiencing barriers to accessing fresh produce, such as economic hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the Fresh Picks boxes, families will receive printed cards featuring recipes from Oldways and digital resources from Foodsmart by Zipongo to help integrate fruits and vegetables into their diets and lives for the long term.
“As we look to build a Monroe County that is equitable for all, it is important to remember that some of our most vulnerable populations often live in areas that have limited access to affordable and nutritious food,” Monroe County Executive Adam Bello said. “I am extremely pleased to see this collaboration between Foodlink and Partnership for a Healthier America in order to pursue food equity, especially during this unprecedented and uncertain time.”
The program started at the beginning of August and for each week until the end of December, customers at Curbside Market sites will be able to purchase Fresh Picks boxes at affordable prices. Foodlink projects to sell more than 9,600 boxes by the end of the year.
When the Curbside Market relaunched in July, Foodlink reduced its schedule in order to follow necessary safety protocols due to COVID-19. This program is helping former sites continue to access fresh produce until the market’s schedule can expand again.
PHA and Foodlink have partnered with American Fruit & Vegetable Company, a local food distributor, to procure produce from local farmers, pack, and deliver the boxes. Foodlink staff and volunteers will manage the distribution of the Fresh Picks boxes at Curbside Market sites, adhering to all local, state, and federal regulations around food and COVID-19 safety. Site coordinators help advertise, organize, and enroll customers.
Foodsmart by Zipongo will be providing every Fresh Picks box recipient with complimentary access to its digital platform, a comprehensive tool designed to make healthy eating easy. Benefits include: nutrition assessment with personalized insights, personalized recipes that incorporate the fresh food provided in boxes, and discounts on other grocery items available nearby.
The Fresh Picks boxes in Rochester offer balanced nutrition, variety, and seasonal produce to a two-person household for approximately one week at a time. The goal is for the boxes to provide two to three servings of produce per person each day, with a 60-40 ratio of vegetables to fruits.
A sample box will include:
4 Valencia Oranges
4 Red Delicious Apples
2 Red Onions
4 Idaho Potatoes
5 Locally Grown Bi–Color Corn
“The communities that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 will require even more support and attention on the road to recovery,” said David Sandman, Ph.D., President and CEO of NYSHealth. “The Rochester Fresh Picks program responds to the immediate needs of food-insecure residents by linking them to fresh, affordable produce from local farms. This project will also seed healthy food habits in communities that can last well beyond the current crisis.”
PHA and Foodlink are excited for this opportunity to build on the success of the COVID-19 Fresh Food Fund in Denver, while exploring alternative models for building long-term retail access to fresh produce for underserved populations.
Foodlink has scaled up its food banking operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in order to meet the rising need in our communities. In doing so, we have had to pivot away from some of our traditional distribution models in order to mitigate further spread of the Coronavirus.
One of the focus areas of our hunger-relief efforts has been the safe distribution of Emergency Food Supply Boxes.
Foodlink is preparing tens of thousands of these boxes — ranging in size, weight and contents — and distributing them through new distribution channels and community partners throughout the region. In addition, boxes of perishable goods (produce, dairy, meat) are provided through the Nourish NY initiative, and the USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP).
All Monroe County sites require registration through 2-1-1 (one site registration per call). Other sites that do not list registration info operate on a first-come, first-served basis. In some of those cases, start times are given, and the event ends when supplies run out.
MONDAY, OCTOBER 19
Allegany County Cuba Fireman’s Park, 100 Center St., Cuba 14727 (3:30PM – 5PM)
Yates County Finger Lakes Produce Auction, 3691 Route 14A, Penn Yan 14527 (11AM) Register online HERE or call Yates OFA at: 315-536-5515 or Yates DSS at: 315-536-5183
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 30
Monroe County Foodlink, 1999 Mt. Read Blvd., Rochester 14615 (3PM – 5PM) To register call 2-1-1, or text 898-211
Orleans County Albion Main Street Store, 131 South Main St., Albion 14411 (9:30AM – 11:30AM)
FAQsfor our EFSB distribution
What’s in the boxes?
Residents can expect a mix of produce, dairy and meat products within the USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box program. Foodlink and our community partners strive to offer additional food items when supplies allow.
All distributions will take place in large, open spaces (e.g. parking lots) where there is room for multiple cars. All staff and volunteers will maintain a social distance of at least 6 feet at all times. Clients are asked to stay in their cars, with the windows up, at all times.
Clients are asked to stay in their vehicle, with the windows up, at all times. The staff or volunteers at the sites will have no contact with all clients. We will use a drive-through model. This means that after you check in, you will drive through the lane with your trunk open. A staff person or volunteer at the site will place the box in the trunk of your car, close your trunk, and tap lightly on your car to let you know that it is safe to drive away.
You can come to the distribution site at any time during the set distribution schedule, By pre-registering, you ensure that you will get a box, which means that you do not need to come early or be given a set time window for pick up. When you pull up to the distribution site, you will be asked to stay in your vehicle with the windows up. A staff person or volunteer will assist you with check in by asking you to show your ID with your name and the address that you used to pre-register, behind your closed window. If you do not have an ID then a bill/statement with name and address is acceptable. The staff person or volunteer will check that you are on their list for pre-registration, ask you to open the trunk of your car, and then direct you toward a distribution lane.
What To Bring
Please bring your ID (or other documentation with name and address, if you do not have an ID) with your name and the address that you used to pre-register for the distribution site. Please make sure to clean out the trunk of your car so that distribution staff and volunteers place your box inside quickly and safely.
Foodlink has announced the winners of its annual Seed Grant applications for 2020-21.
Seed Grants are one-time start-up grants intended to be used as a “seed” to begin a new or enhanced service to an agency or hunger-relief organization. Seed Grants encourage the development of projects that support innovative ways of confronting emergency food and/or nutrition needs of low-income communities. Funding for Seed Grants is provided by the New York State Department of Health, through the Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program (HPNAP).
The winning applicants for the 2020-21 grant period include: Beyond the Sanctuary, Covenant Table, Lydia’s Kitchen, South Wedge Food Pantry/ROCSALT, and The Father’s House- Life Center.
Descriptions of each project are below:
Beyond the Sanctuary
Establish a driver’s training program to enhance current delivery service and expand job opportunities to clients, alleviating food insecurity and reducing their reliance on the emergency food system.
Establish a meal program in the Culver/Parsells neighborhood to serve healthy and nutritionally balanced meals to those in need.
Establish a meal program in Batavia to serve healthy and nutritionally balanced meals to those in need throughout Genesee County.
South Wedge Food Pantry/ROCSALT
Establish a Community Education Curriculum for volunteer groups driven by food pantry client’s voice and consultants, which enables a consistent Saturday distribution day.
The Father’s House-Life Center
Develop a mobile renovation unit to directly support food pantry clients and community members with minor repairs to homes and spaces.