Check Out Hunger returns at Wegmans!

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.

Partnership for a Healthier America selects Rochester as second city to access the ‘COVID-19 Fresh Food Fund’

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.”

PHOTOS: Facebook album from the ‘Fresh Picks’ announcement

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 
  • 4 Nectarines 
  • 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.

Where to find Foodlink’s Emergency Food Supply Boxes

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).

SCHEDULE

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.

OCTOBER

MONDAY, OCTOBER 19

Allegany County
Cuba Fireman’s Park, 100 Center St., Cuba 14727 (3:30PM – 5PM)

Ontario County
Wellspring, 22 Teft Ave., Clifton Springs 14432 (5:30PM – 7:30PM)

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 20

Seneca County
Seneca House of Concern, 95 Ovid St., Seneca Falls 13148 (1PM – 3PM)

Wayne County
Fairville Fire Department, 2963 Fairville Maple Ridge Road, Fairville 14513 (NOON – 2PM)
To register, please call 315-359-8024

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 21

Monroe County
Rochester Public Market, 280 North Union St, Rochester, 14609 (2PM – 4PM)
To register call 2-1-1, or text 898-211

Livingston County
Mt. Morris Central School District, 30 Bonadonna Ave., Mr. Morris 14510 (4PM)

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 22

Monroe County
Gates Town Hall, 1605 Buffalo Road, Gates, 14624 (3PM – 5PM)
To register call 2-1-1, or text 898-211

Wyoming County
United Methodist Church, 212 East Main St., Arcade 14009 (10AM – NOON)

Yates County
Town of Starkey Highway Dept. Barn, 656 Dundee-Glenora Road, Dundee 14837 (2PM – 4PM)
Register online HERE or call Yates OFA at: 315-536-5515 or Yates DSS at: 315-536-5183

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 23

Monroe County
Foodlink, 1999 Mt. Read Blvd., Rochester 14615 (3PM – 5PM)
To register call 2-1-1, or text 898-211

Orleans County
Ridgeway Fire Department, 11392 Ridge Road, Medina 14103 (9:30AM)

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 24

Monroe County
Greece-Arcadia Middle School, 130 Island Cottage Road, Rochester, 14612 (NOON – 2PM)
To register call 2-1-1, or text 898-211

MONDAY, OCTOBER 26

Allegany County
Allegany County Fairgrounds, 15 North St., Angelica 14709 (3:30PM – 5PM)

Ontario County
Geneva Community Center, 160 Carter Road, Geneva, 14456 (11AM)

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 27

Seneca County
South Seneca High School, 7263 Main St., Ovid 14521 (4PM)

Wayne County
Wayne County Fairgrounds, W. Jackson Street (the entire street), Palmyra, 14522 (NOON – 2PM)
To register, please call 315-359-8024

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 28

Monroe County
Rochester Public Market, 280 North Union St, Rochester, 14609 (2PM – 4PM)
To register call 2-1-1, or text 898-211

Livingston County
Avon Driving Park, 350 Spring St., Avon, 14414 (10AM)

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 29

Monroe County
Henrietta Department of Henrietta, 605 Calkins Road, Henrietta 14623 (10AM – NOON)
To register call 2-1-1, or text 898-211

Wyoming County
Attica Food Pantry, 29 Walnut St., Attica 14011 (10AM – NOON)

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)

FAQs for 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.

Social distancing

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.

No-contact model

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.

Check-in process

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 announces ‘Seed Grant’ winners for 2020-21

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.

Covenant Table

Establish a meal program in the Culver/Parsells neighborhood to serve healthy and nutritionally balanced meals to those in need.

Lydia’s Kitchen

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.

Foodlink, Excellus BCBS announce ‘Fresh Account’ partnership with the Curbside Market

When the pandemic forced Karen Goossen (pictured above) to close her business this spring, she knew her income was at risk. She didn’t realize the economic fallout would also put her health at risk.

Goossen, an Excellus BlueCross BlueShield member, had been following her doctor’s advice to add more fresh fruits and vegetables to her diet to help manage her medical concerns. However, with her income limited, those healthier choices became luxuries.

“I had to find a way to stretch my dollars,” she said, “so sometimes I had to do without fresh fruits and vegetables.”

SCHEDULE: The Curbside Market’s September stops

A new analysis conducted for Excellus BCBS by data science company Algorex Health Technologies identified food insecurity as one of the most prominent needs in Rochester. Another recent study by Feeding America showed food insecurity in Foodlink’s 10-county area is expected to rise 45 percent this year due to the pandemic.

To help at-risk members like Goossen, the health insurer developed the “Fresh Account at Curbside Market” program with Foodlink. As part of the pilot project, Excellus BCBS members with the greatest risk of food insecurity and health care needs receive a monthly $30 voucher for six months. Members redeem the vouchers at Foodlink’s “Fresh Account at Curbside Market” locations. The Curbside Market is Foodlink’s mobile farmers market, which provides affordable and convenient access to healthy foods in underserved communities.

Members also receive support from nutrition counselors and have the option to take part in Foodlink’s Cooking Matters nutrition education classes.

Loss of income, poverty, a person’s environment, education levels, and discrimination can all contribute to health risks. Known as social determinants of health, these factors can have significant impact on a person’s quality of life and well-being.

“Understanding how social determinants impact our members’ health allows us to provide them with better care,” said Dr. Brian Steele, Excellus BCBS’s vice president and chief medical officer for safety net and population management. “Food insecurity, apart from the pandemic, was identified as a clear need in our community. You need a healthy diet to improve and maintain good health. This seemed to be an area where we could intervene.”

“This is an exciting partnership for Foodlink and Curbside Market because it aligns perfectly with our mission as a public health organization,” said Julia Tedesco, President & CEO of Foodlink. “The Fresh Account program helps people access healthier foods and celebrates making the healthy choice the easy choice. We hope this will improve Excellus BCBS member experience and health outcomes – and lower health care costs.”

Participation in the program helps Excellus BCBS member Carl Draper extend his food budget and meet his health care goals. “It brings a nice balance. I get lots of good green stuff into the mix,” he said. “I can make a well-rounded meal, adding fresh fruits and vegetables I can’t ordinarily get.”

“The goal is not only to help members eat healthier, it helps us engage more easily with them.,” Steele said.

Program participants are connected with nurse care managers who support the members’ health care needs. The care managers help identify gaps in care, encourage continuation of medical care and identify available community resources. Improving overall health, helps reduce emergency department and hospital admissions.

The pilot launched on August 1, with 250 members and another 250 members are expected to be enrolled later this year.

Goossen calls the program “a blessing. The timing was perfect. I really needed it and there’s a need in the community.”

Foodlink Career Fellowship Class of 2020 moves on to their externships

The seven members of the Foodlink Career Fellowship Class of 2020 all left Foodlink after an extended stay this week.

Each moved on to their externships at local employers — the final stage of the year-long culinary training program. The Fellows would have normally made this transition back in April, but the pandemic’s impact on the local food industry, combined with the increased need for meals prepared in our community’s kitchen prolonged their time with us. Each added much-needed capacity to our kitchen, which went from serving less than 4,000 meals daily to nearly 6,000 meals/day during our initial COVID-19 response.

Each will experience the rigors of the local food industry for three months before graduating from the program and seeking full-time jobs. Five of the seven Fellows will work at area Wegmans stores, while Native Eatery & Bar and the Genesee Valley Club have also signed on as employer partners.

The full list of our Fellows and their externship sites is below:

Olvin Cortes – Wegmans (Mt. Read)

JoJo Schaible (Wegmans (East Ave.)

Brandi Williams (Wegmans Irondequoit)

Tyeasha Hendrix (Wegmans Perinton)

Wayne Lucas (Wegmans Chili Paul)

Javia Hart (Native)

Jimmy Stiner (GVC)

Rochester meal sites: Foodlink’s partnership with RCSD, City continues

The City, Foodlink and the Rochester City School District (RCSD) will continue to collaborate to provide free, healthy meals for children across Rochester this school year. Since March, this collaboration – along with other community partners including Common Ground Health and the Rochester Area Community Foundation – has resulted in the distribution of more than 1.3 million meals.

The food distribution program provides city children with access to the meals they would have received at school and after-school programs.

Beginning Wednesday, Sept. 9, grab-and-go meals will be available at 20 RCSD schools, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Beginning Monday, Sept. 14, R-Centers will have breakfast, lunch and dinner available from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Foodlink will continue to provide food for other community locations (such as Agape Haven, 289 Driving Park) and will partner with additional organizations and programs seeking to offer meal service to children and families. Those organizations can contact Claire Savini at (585) 413-5063 (csavini@foodlinkny.org) to learn more.

RCSD Sites:

John Williams School #5, 555 Plymouth Ave.
Virgil I. Grissom School #7, 31 Bryan St.
Roberto Clemente School #8: 1180 St. Paul St.
Dr. Martin L. King School #9, 485 Clinton Ave.
Anna Murray-Douglass #12, 999 South Ave.
John Walton Spencer School #16, 321 Post Ave.
Enrico Fermi School #17, 158 Orchard St.
Dr. Charles Lunsford Sch. #19, 465 Seward St.
Henry Hudson School #28, 450 Humboldt St.
John James Audubon School #33, 500 Webster Ave.
Pinnacle School #35, 194 Field St.
Abelard Reynolds School #42, 3330 Lake Ave.
Mary McLeod Bethune Sch. #45, 1445 Clifford Ave.
Helen Barret Montgomery School #50, 301 Seneca Ave.
Dr. Freddie Thomas Campus, 625 Scio St.
RIA/Jefferson High School Campus, 1 Edgerton Park,
Wilson Foundation Academy, 200 Genesee St.
Franklin High School, 950 Norton St.
Monroe High School, 164 Alexander St.
Nathaniel Rochester School #3, 85 Adam St.


R-Centers:

Adams Street R-Center, 85 Adams St.
Avenue D R-Center, 200 Avenue D
Carter Street R-Center, 500 Carter St.
Tyshaun Cauldwell Center for Hope, 524 Campbell St.
Edgerton R-Center, 41 Backus St.
Frederick Douglass R-Center, 999 South Ave.
David F. Gantt R-Center, 700 North St.
Trenton and Pamela Jackson R-Center, 485 N. Clinton Ave.
Thomas P. Ryan R-Center, 530 Webster Ave.

Foodlink hosting virtual conversations about range of issues during annual Hunger Action Month

With more than 60,000 additional people in the Rochester area projected to live in food-insecure households due to the pandemic, there is more urgency than ever to focus on the issue of hunger in our communities.

Foodlink and other hunger-relief organizations across the Feeding America network use September – Hunger Action Month – as a time to raise awareness about the root causes of food insecurity, and encourage supporters to take action on the issue of hunger. The annual month-long campaign brings attention to the reality of food insecurity in the United States, which is elevated this year due to the challenges associated with the ongoing pandemic. In Foodlink’s 10-county service area, food insecurity is projected to rise 45 percent in 2020.

“Now more than ever, Foodlink is urging our neighbors to get involved during Hunger Action Month,” said Julia Tedesco, President & CEO of Foodlink. “The need is greater and the community’s response will be critical as we navigate this crisis in the months and years to come. Whether you have the capacity to donate, volunteer, or advocate – anyone can take action.”

Although Foodlink focused its COVID-19 response these past six months on the distribution of millions of pounds of emergency food and nearly 500,000 children’s meals for households experiencing food insecurity, its approach to advocacy extends well beyond feeding people. Foodlink finalized its inaugural Advocacy Agenda last February, and included three major focus areas: (1) Ensure no one goes hungry; (2) Improve access to healthy food – in schools, health-care settings and low-income communities; and (3) Eliminate the root causes of hunger.


Volunteer / Wear Orange: Sign up for a volunteer shift! You can also show your support of Hunger Action Month by wearing orange on Sept. 10 – Hunger Action Day. City buildings will be lit orange for the occasion!

Donate: Make a monetary donation in support of our mission! We appreciate your support!


Working with community leaders from other leading non-profits, Foodlink is facilitating a series of conversations around four topics – all of which influence food insecurity in various ways. On Tuesdays throughout September, beginning Sept. 8, Foodlink will post video interviews with local experts that address: housing, health care, racism & employment. The videos – approximately 10-15 minutes in length – will be held via Zoom, and posted on Foodlink’s website, Facebook and YouTube pages.

In addition, Foodlink remains committed to advocating for policy change and legislation that will help food-insecure families access healthy foods. On the federal level, Foodlink will continue to speak to members of Congress about the importance of adequate funding for programs such as: The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), Pandemic-EBT and USDA school meal waivers.

(UPDATE: On August 31, the USDA announced it has extended certain school meal waivers through the end of 2020. Anti-hunger advocates, Foodlink included, would like to see those same waivers extended for the full school year, and for as long as remote learning is taking place.)

Foodlink also is advocating for participation in the 2020 Census, through the distribution of promotional materials to our network of member food pantries, and by allowing Census workers to attend our drive-thru food distributions to speak with clients directly about the importance being counted this year.

On Sept. 10, you can show you support of Hunger Action Month in a simple way: Wear orange! Orange is the color of hunger awareness because the nation’s first food stamps (which made their debut in Rochester on May 16, 1939) were orange. The city’s skyline will be lit orange in honor of hunger awareness, and you can show your support by wearing orange, snapping a photo, and using the hashtag #HungerActionMonth on social media.

Sands Family Foundation extends support of Foodlink’s Curbside Market

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The Sands Family Foundation Generation 3 Philanthropy Project (G3PP) recently awarded a multi-year grant to Foodlink to support its Curbside Market – a mobile farmers market that visits underserved communities across the Rochester region.

The grant supports key staffing needs for the market and will allow for the addition of a new vehicle to the Curbside Market fleet.

“The Sands Family Foundation has shown repeatedly that it truly cares about the health of our region, particularly in low-income communities where diet-related illnesses are most prevalent,” said Julia Tedesco, President & CEO of Foodlink. “The Curbside Market continues to evolve to meet the needs of Rochester-area residents seeking fresh, affordable foods – and will be critical to rebuilding community health as our area recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

SCHEDULE: The Curbside Market’s August schedule

Launched in 2013, the Curbside Market, which primarily sells fresh fruits and vegetables, strives to make the healthy choice the easy choice for thousands of customers in the Rochester region. Although it began with one vehicle and seasonal routes in the City of Rochester, the market now operates year-round with multiple routes in Rochester, Monroe County, and five other counties in Foodlink’s service area.

“As our grandfather, Marvin, would say, ‘While we can’t save the world, we can make a difference in our community,’” said G3PP Co-Chair Lauren Sands.

Customers who use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits can purchase twice as much produce through the Double Up Food Bucks incentive program. Later this year, Foodlink hopes to diversify its inventory once it is approved to sell items for another federal nutrition program, Women, Infants & Children (WIC).

This is the second grant that Sands Family Foundation G3PP has awarded to Foodlink’s Curbside Market. A prior grant in 2018-19 allowed the market to add critical staff and expand its operating hours to evenings and weekends.

 “Our family is proud to support Foodlink’s efforts to meet our community’s need for fresh, affordable foods with its Curbside Market,” said G3PP Co-Chair Ashly Sands-O’Winter.

Due to COVID-19, the Curbside Market temporarily had to suspend its operations in mid-March. The market reopened with a limited schedule in July, after extensive planning to ensure the safety of its customers and staff.

 “We look forward to learning with our partners and customers about how to continue to best serve them – and will begin to ramp up our schedule when it is safe and appropriate to do so,” Tedesco said.

To learn more about how to support Foodlink and the Curbside Market, and view its current schedule, visit FoodlinkNY.org.

‘Healthiest Cities’ grant aims to advance health equity in Rochester

ROCHESTER – Common Ground Health, Foodlink and the City of Rochester have been selected to receive a $100,000 grant as part of the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge. Common Ground Health’s Healthi Kids Initiative is working with Foodlink and the City of Rochester to implement the City’s new Comprehensive Plan, Rochester 2034, which has an emphasis on equity and healthy living. The primary focus of the grant is the creation of a food policy council. The announcement was made by Mayor Lovely Warren on August 4 at the City of Rochester Public Market.

The goal of the food policy council is to identify gaps and opportunities to expand equitable access to quality food. The team will heavily engage city residents as leaders to create a long-lasting, sustainable impact on the overall health of the community.

In addition to improving the health of the community, the work of the food policy council will strengthen the local economy, promote social justice, and nurture the beauty and sustainability of our natural environment. The group will focus on resident engagement to inform the council’s structure and initial priorities.

Common Ground Health’s Healthi Kids Initiative, Foodlink, and the City of Rochester will be hosting three Zoom meetings in August to provide more information about the food policy council and to gauge the interest from the Rochester community. The links below will take you to a Zoom meeting registration page for each date.

>>> Thursday, August 20th. 5:30-6:30 PM

>>> Wednesday, August 26th. 5:30-6:30 PM

>>> Thursday, August 27th. 5:30-6:30 PM

The challenge is funded by the Aetna Foundation, together with the American Public Health Association (APHA) and the National Association of Counties (NACo), and supports communities in reducing disparities in chronic disease outcomes and promoting health equity through improved access to healthy food and health services.

“Access to health care and healthy food, as well as other social determinants of health, can significantly impact rates of chronic disease and other health outcomes, with average life spans varying by up to 20-30 years in communities that are just a few miles apart,” said Eileen Howard Boone, President of the Aetna Foundation. “We are proud to partner with APHA and NACo to support the work done in Rochester to drive change and address these social determinants of health – work that is now more important than ever, given the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Out of more than 100 applicants nationwide, the Rochester project was one of only 20 teams chosen to participate in the Challenge. In addition to the funding, Common Ground Health and their partners will participate in one-on-one technical assistance provided by [APHA/NACo] and a supportive peer-learning network led by Healthy Places by Design over the course of the two years. An expert review panel selected the team following a rigorous review process, which looked at a variety of factors including: level of innovation of their proposed approaches, intended impacts on systems and policy change and alignment of diverse partners around common priorities. Check out the full list of grantee organizations and their community partners.

Lovely A. Warren, mayor of the City of Rochester said:

“I want to congratulate Common Ground Health and Foodlink on their award of this competitive grant and thank them for their partnership on the critical issue of bringing equal access to affordable, healthy food to all of our residents. As we move forward with the vision laid out in the Rochester 2034, we must recognize and confront the reality that food disparity is among the systemic causes of inequality that prevent too many of our residents from reaching their full potential and living their best lives. I am grateful for community partnerships that help us create more jobs, safer and more vibrant neighborhoods and better educational opportunities for our residents.”

Mike Bulger, healthy communities coordinator for Common Ground Health’s Healthi Kids Initiative said:

”Across all incomes and demographics, diet and nutrition are at the top of the list of health concerns identified by residents in Rochester and throughout the region in a 2018 survey conducted by Common Ground Health. By making changes to local food policies and systems, we can help address the health inequities that exist in our region. As a community, we can come together to ensure our food system empowers people to live healthy and fulfilling lives.”

Mitch Gruber, chief strategy & partnerships officer at Foodlink and City of Rochester councilmember said:

“The pandemic has not only resulted in a dramatic spike in food insecurity locally; it has exposed the inequities of our food system — particularly toward communities of color and the deep connection between the food we eat and public health, said Mitch Gruber, Chief Strategy Officer for Foodlink and a member of Rochester City Council. “A resident-driven Food Policy Council will help the city make sound, food-related decisions to improve access and affordability for all.”

Candace Cabral, resident of the JOSANA neighborhood and grant project team member said:

“In Rochester, there is most definitely a high need for improved access to healthy foods, vibrant community spaces and gardens, and food retailers who want to live and work in our neighborhoods. As a local resident who is passionate about advocating for community-led change that will have a direct impact on the health of my neighbors, I’m excited to get to work on this project.”