Our 2019 Fill the Bus campaign wrapped up a week ago, and preliminary numbers show that more than 400,000 pounds of products are headed to Foodlink to support our BackPack Program!
This year’s campaign was held at multiple Wegmans locations in the Rochester area between August 25 and Sept. 7. Shoppers had a chance to purchase bags of kid-friendly foods for $3, $5 or $10.
The food will be donated to Foodlink to support the BackPack Program, which helps alleviate childhood hunger in our region. According to the most recent Map the Meal Gap report by Feeding America, more than 48,000 children in our region are considered food insecure, which means they live in a household with limited or uncertain acccess to healthy foods.
Schools throughout our 10-county service area identify children who might be at risk of food insecurity. Each Friday, Foodlink sends bags of food to more than 80 schools, and more than 3,000 bags end up in backpacks for kids to take home for the weekend — when they know longer have access to school meals.
This is the 7th year that Foodlink and Wegmans have collaborated for Fill the Bus. Other sponsors included Fidelis Care, and our media sponsors at 13WHAM ABC, WUHF Fox Rochester, and CW Rochester.
In collaboration with Foodlink, the following press release was sent Sept. 3, 2019, by the office of U.S. Rep. Joseph Morelle:
ROCHESTER – Today, Congressman Joe Morelle along with Foodlink, The Children’s Agenda, members of the Rochester Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative (RMAPI), and community stakeholders announced their strong opposition to the President’s proposed changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and submitted public comment outlining their concerns. The proposed rule could cause an estimated 3.1 million people nationwide—including at least 87,000 New Yorkers—to lose access to SNAP benefits, jeopardizing their ability to provide food for themselves and their families.
“This unconscionable proposal demonstrates an utter disregard for the needs of everyday families and would serve only to pull the rug out from under millions of Americans in their time of need,” said Rep. Morelle. “The 87,000 New Yorkers who rely on these essential benefits for food security deserve better. We must work to every day to uplift the most vulnerable in our community and eliminate the barriers that prevent them from thriving.”
“Any threat to SNAP is a threat to the work we do and the people we serve every day,” said Julia Tedesco, President & CEO of Foodlink, Rochester’s regional food bank. “SNAP provides nearly 10 times the amount of meals to the American public than the entire Feeding America network. Cuts to this vital anti-poverty program would put an overwhelming burden on the emergency food system, and risk the health and well-being of thousands of families in our area.”
“For millions of Americans affected by poverty, the first step on the path toward self-sufficiency comes when they can move beyond the crisis and daily trauma of food insecurity. Eliminating the Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility Option would create a much steeper path to self-sufficiency for many families who rely on SNAP benefits, stripping their ability to build savings for emergencies and adding unnecessary roadblocks,” said Jerome Underwood, Co-Chair of the Rochester Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative. “It also subjects children and their families to the many negative health and mental health effects that come with food insecurity. We must stand together as a community to protect our most vulnerable neighbors and oppose this proposed change.”
“The Trump administration’s proposed changes to SNAP will harm thousands of low-income children and families in our community,” said Larry Marx, CEO of The Children’s Agenda. “Research shows that food security is critical to giving children the best possible start to life. Our nation’s leaders should ensure that vulnerable children and families are able to thrive, not look for ways to remove critical food supports. This proposed rule jeopardizes the health and wellbeing of children, and we urge the Trump administration to reverse it immediately.”
Congressman Morelle joined community partners at Foodlink to help mark the start of Hunger Action Month — an annual campaign spearheaded by Feeding America every September to raise awareness about hunger in our communities – and urge the President to rescind his proposed SNAP change.
The proposed rule change would eliminate broad-based categorical eligibility (BBCE) for SNAP benefits, leaving New York seniors, veterans, individuals with disabilities, and working families without adequate access to food assistance. In addition, it would put those in SNAP eligible households at risk of losing free school meals.
The cost savings of the change would come at a significant cost to the health and well-being of citizens in Rochester and communities like it nationwide.
Rep. Morelle as well as representatives from Foodlink, RMAPI, The Children’s Agenda, and a number of community stakeholders have submitted public comment urging the President and the Department of Agriculture to rescind this rule immediately.
Foodlink, the regional food bank based in Rochester, NY, strongly opposes the USDA’s proposed rule (RIN 0584-AE62) to revise regulations related to Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility (BBCE) requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Our federal government should seek ways to reduce barriers for low-income Americans who are struggling to feed themselves and their families. This proposal does the opposite.
We ask that you consider the benefits and true intention of
BBCE before revising it and jeopardizing 3.1 million Americans’ access to SNAP
– one of the country’s most successful anti-poverty programs that, until recent
years, gained support from both sides of the aisle. In New York alone, more
than 87,000 people would lose SNAP solely based on income limits[i].
Many more would lose benefits due to the re-imposition of an assets test. The
end result will be increased food insecurity and more families living in
There are several attributes about BBCE that have gained
bipartisan support for decades. To cite a few examples, BBCE:
work and upward mobility. The working poor depend on SNAP to make ends
meet. When an individual receives a modest pay increase and moves above the
threshold for SNAP eligibility (130% of the poverty line), BBCE prevents that
household from seeing a net decrease in funds due to what’s called the
“benefits cliff.” Rather than eliminating SNAP for these hard-working
individuals, BBCE reduces SNAP incrementally until the household achieves
families avoid disaster when sudden hardships arise. SNAP imposes asset
limits on households enrolled in the program, meaning recipients often have
little savings to guard against unexpected financial setbacks, such as medical
bills or natural disaster. Rather than forcing families to spend down assets to
qualify for SNAP, BBCE allows families to save money, and protect themselves against
a sudden expense. Often times, when these hardships arise, the food budget is
administrative costs for safety-net programs. According to a comprehensive
study by Mathematica Policy Research, only 3 percent of all SNAP individuals
would be income ineligible if noncash BBCE were eliminated. So rather than
“close the loophole” for the 3 percent, the administration is also penalizing
the other 97 percent of individuals who would otherwise qualify for SNAP,
resulting in additional paperwork, time and expense. In addition, losing SNAP
also would require some families to reapply for free school meals – another
unnecessary, bureaucratic barrier for food-insecure families. This could affect
500,000 children nationally[ii].
We don’t need our most vulnerable children falling through the cracks unnecessarily
due to administrative barriers to accessing food assistance.
As one of 200 food banks in the Feeding America network, we
know first-hand that charity alone cannot solve hunger in the United States. SNAP
provides nearly 10 times the meals that our network of 60,000+ food pantries
and meal programs provides to Americans on a daily basis[iii].
Our network could not withstand such a devastating cut to SNAP.
We ask that you also consider the true cost of this
proposal. The $2.5 billion in annual programmatic savings the administration is
expected to see likely doesn’t consider the cost of increasing food insecurity
and poverty across the nation. Food-insecure children don’t perform well in
school and are less likely to graduate. Food-insecure adults and seniors are
more likely to incur higher health care costs related to diet-related illness.
Yes, SNAP savings will be achieved, but the health and well-being of our
communities will suffer.
Furthermore, dismantling this program will be costly for the
40 states that have adopted it. To quote the Urban Institute’s Elaine Waxman,
who gave detailed Congressional testimony about BBCE in June:
“Because such a wide
variety of states and territories have elected to use BBCE, it is reasonable to
conclude that states find it a very important lever for responding to the
challenges facing low‐income families and for streamlining their administrative
processes. Because so many states have built their procedures, information
systems, and training around BBCE, removing or significantly restricting it
will likely be costly and disruptive.”[iv]
are discouraged by the tactics and messaging employed by the administration in
an attempt to sell this proposal as “good government” to the American public.
First, labeling the entirety of BBCE as a “loophole” – as Secretary Perdue did
three times within the first minute of his prepared remarks – does a disservice
to the intent and achievements of the program. This rhetoric implies that people
are enrolling in SNAP with little oversight, when, in fact, people
still must go through the application process to receive benefits.
The rhetoric also implies that the now infamous “Minnesota
millionaire” is the norm, rather than the exception. Using this man – an
extreme outlier – as a mascot for a program that, in fact, helps millions of
low-income Americans put food on the table, is a shameful tactic we’ve seen
before with the “Welfare Queen” from the 80s and Fox News’ “Lobster Surfer”
from 5 years ago.
In conclusion, the administration’s multiple attempts to
weaken vital safety net programs jeopardizes the health and economic prosperity
of millions of Americans. We have great concern with the dismantling of a
program that would directly impact so many of the people we serve. SNAP has
proven itself for decades to be one of the most effective anti-poverty programs
our nation has ever seen. It should be strengthened, not slashed.
Thank you for the opportunity to submit comments on this
Foodlink has been awarded a $6,000 grant from The Darden Foundation to help provide hunger-relief to Rochester-area families. The funds will be used to support Foodlink’s Mobile Pantry program, which connects underserved neighborhoods and communities with large distributions of food on a monthly or bimonthly basis.
Foodlink, a member of the Feeding America® network, is one of 193 food banks to receive this funding from The Darden Foundation. According to Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap report, more than 145,000 people in Foodlink’s 10-county service area are considered food insecure.
The Darden Foundation is committed to supporting families facing food insecurity in communities across the United States. Their commitment to help is demonstrated through their partnership with Feeding America and their network of 200 food banks across the nation.
Feeding America has worked alongside The Darden Foundation for seven years in the fight to end hunger. Thanks to their ongoing support, the Feeding America network has been able to help provide even more meals to families in need.
A new chapter has begun for the Foodlink Career Fellowship.
Andrew, Brandi, Eric, Gerquan, Javia, Jimmy, Jojo, Tyeasha and Wayne began their journey last week toward successful careers in the regional food industry. Orientation was held July 26, when the Fellows learned the basics of the program and got to know one another. On July 27, they began work inside the Foodlink Community Kitchen, preparing meals for the Summer Meals program.
The second class began just about a month after the inaugural class graduated. This new group will go through a similar curriculum, however, this year each participant is considered an apprentice. The program earned recognition in early 2019 as a New York State Registered Apprenticeship Training program.
Check out some photos from orientation and the first day on the job!
The Lexington Avenue Community Farm received its largest grant in history last month from the KaBOOM! Play Everywhere Challenge.
Foodlink proposed to build off the early phases of its pocket park and play space, and create more opportunities for play in the area surrounding the farm on Lexington Avenue. The space will feature log and boulder-based climbers and steps, labyrinths, public art and wayfinding features.
KaBOOM! and the Built to Play initiative, supported by the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, have announced the winners for 22 projects totaling $1 million spanning from western New York to Southeast Michigan of the second Play Everywhere Challenge. Other winning projects included one from Healthi Kids in Rochester, Camp Puzzle Peace, Inc. in Wyoming County, Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council in Genesee County, and GLOW YMCA in Orleans County.
The Play Everywhere Challenge invited communities to submit creative design ideas that make it easier for families to incorporate play into everyday moments.
The Lexington Avenue Community Farm serves 65 families in northwest Rochester, most of which come from the local refugee population. The farm is a community garden for residents, a space for Foodlink to grow produce for its programs and partners, and a play space for local children.
Did you know that Wayne County were its own state, it would rank fourth in the NATION in apple growing?
Data from the latest U.S. Agriculture Census (2017) was released this spring, and our neighbors to the east in Wayne County made some impressive gains as the state’s epicenter of apples. There are 23,685 acres of apple farms in Wayne County, which makes it the third-highest apple producing county in the country. That’s an improvement from the last Census, in which they ranked fourth.
Unsurprisingly, Washington leads the country — by a wide margin. New York is next in line, followed by Michigan, Pennsylvania and California. Wayne County accounts for nearly half of all apple farm acreage in New York.
Check out the charts below for the top 5 states and counties for apple farm acreage, as of 2017:
They came to Foodlink in search of opportunity. Now – a year later – eight members of the Foodlink Career Fellowship have graduated with improved culinary skills, confidence, and hope for what the future holds.
Thursday’s graduation ceremony at the City of Rochester Public Market marked the culmination of the inaugural year of the program, which trains individuals who have experienced barriers to employment for middle-skills careers in the regional food industry. Fellows were nominated by a community-based organization and went through a rigorous curriculum that includes classroom instruction, on-the-job training in the Foodlink Community Kitchen, and a three-month externship at Wegmans Food Markets.
NOMINATE A FELLOW: Foodlink Career Fellowship is currently accepting nominations for its second class. Email Jes Scannell (email@example.com), Director of Career Empowerment Initiatives, to receive a nomination packet.
“This is a proud moment for these eight individuals – and for our entire organization,” said Julia Tedesco, President & CEO of Foodlink. “This is one of the most innovative programs we’ve ever launched in our 40-year history, and it truly demonstrates our commitment to addressing the root causes of hunger in our communities. We’re inspired by the dedication and commitment shown by this first graduating class.”
The Foodlink Career Fellowship began last July after more
than two years of preparation by Foodlink’s staff and several community
stakeholders. Foodlink sought to maximize its recent investment in a $5 million
commercial kitchen by training people for living-wage careers, and helping them
avoid dependency on the emergency food system. While food banking remains the
core of Foodlink’s operations, addressing the root causes of hunger through the
launch of other food-related programs has been a priority for the past decade.
“Our Fellows made a lot of sacrifices, put in a ton of work,
and really challenged themselves to explore new growth opportunities for
themselves personally and professionally,” said Jes Scannell, Foodlink’s
Director of Career Empowerment Initiatives. “Today, we both celebrate their
achievements and recognize that this is just the beginning of their careers as
The inaugural class includes: Jehmel Alexander, Anthony
Arroyo, Kristen Gates, LaRhonda ‘Rudy’ Harris, Bre’Onn Hepburn, Da’Quan Quick,
Gloria Soldevila Ramos, and Jenna Raymond Torres. Alexander, Arroyo, Gates,
Harris and Soldevila Ramos were offered positions at Wegmans, while three
others are still progressing through the final stages of the program.
“The past year has been quite a journey, but I made
it,” Harris said. “I love putting on my Wegmans chef coat every day
because it’s my way of showing my three kids how to be a stronger person, and
how to achieve your goals.”
Wegmans was instrumental in developing the structure for the
Fellowship, and – of course – hosting the externship. Chefs at several store
locations and restaurants served as vital mentors as the Fellows navigated the
rigors of full-time work in the kitchen.
“It’s been a pleasure watching this first class of Fellows
grow and mature as culinary professionals,” said Chef Donald Harter, Director
of Asian & Sushi for Wegmans Food Markets. “This has been an exciting and collaborative
partnership for us, and we’re thrilled to welcome many of them to the Wegmans
The launch of the program was made possible through private
funding from the William G. McGowan Charitable Fund, William and Sheila Konar
Foundation, and ESL Charitable Foundation. The Konar Foundation recently
granted Foodlink a second gift of $150,000 to support the Fellowship’s second
class, set to begin this summer.
“The Konar Foundation chose to support the launch of
the Foodlink Career Fellowship because of its focus on providing a pathway to
prosperity,” said Howard Konar, trustee for the William & Sheila Konar
Foundation. “Congratulations to the program’s inaugural graduates. We wish
them all the best as they realize their true potential in the regional food
On Thursday, Fellows were called one by one to accept their certificates in front of friends, family members and supporters, including many of the agencies that nominated them. Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul was also in attendance, praising the inaugural class and delivering remarks about the state’s commitment to workforce development initiatives. Earlier this year, the Fellowship was recognized as an official New York State apprenticeship program.
“The Foodlink Career Fellowship is a great workforce development tool, providing students with the culinary and leadership skills they need,” Hochul said. “Members of the program received on-the-job training in the field and are prepared for good jobs at companies like Wegmans and others. We want to make sure all New Yorkers have the access and resources they need to be trained to fill jobs in the agriculture and culinary industry across the state.”
Foodlink is actively recruiting for its second class and is accepting nominations for prospective applicants until July 1. Anyone interested in learning more about the program or nominating a Fellow should contact Jes Scannell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rochester’s Summer Meals program is officially underway, and the Foodlink Community Kitchen is pleased once again to prepare thousands of delicious, nutritious meals at dozens of sites all over Rochester this summer.
Foodlink is a key partner in the Summer Meals Partnership of Rochester, which ensures that kids 18 and under have access to free meals throughout the summer, when students lose access to school meals, and parents face the financial burden of increased grocery bills.
The Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation has awarded Foodlink $25,000 to help expand and launch multiple school pantries within the Rochester City School District.
The grant allows RCSD Community Schools to join Foodlink as
member agencies, and purchase vital equipment, supplies and food for their
students. The RCSD’s Community Schools adopt a more holistic approach to
education and help connect families to a wide array of services, so that
educators can focus on teaching and students can focus on learning.
“Food insecurity is a barrier to academic success for
thousands of local students,” said Holli Budd, Executive Director of the Max
and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation. “We’re proud to support Foodlink and
the Rochester City School District to ensure that Rochester’s future leaders
have the nourishment they need to thrive.”
East High – one of 10 designated Community Schools – has
already partnered with Foodlink to implement their onsite school food and
resource pantry. Mary Mcleod Bethune School No. 45 joined Foodlink’s network in
“Unfortunately, material insecurity is a reality for many of
our scholars,” said Jason Taylor, Community Coordinator for East’s Upper and
Lower schools. “Each year around 180 scholars access our pantry to alleviate
their food insecurity. Not only does this food serve these scholars, but it
also supports around 800 of their family members. Having a school pantry as a
resource allows scholars to focus on what they should be doing in school, like
learning and growing, rather than worrying about where their next meal is going
to come from.”
Other schools that will become new Foodlink member agencies
through this grant funding include: Nathaniel Rochester Community School No. 3,
Roberto Clemente School No. 8, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School No. 9, Enrico
Fermi School No. 17, Abraham Lincoln School No. 22, RISE Community School 106,
James Monroe High School, and Northeast College High School. RCSD’s Office of
Adult & Career Education Services (OACES) also will join its member agency
Aside from establishing a pantry at
each school, Foodlink is seeking to broaden the partnership by offering
additional programmatic support through its Curbside Market, nutrition
education workshops and food safety trainings.
“Expanding our emergency food network into more schools is a deliberate and necessary step for us to ensure students and their families have adequate access to nutritious food,” said Julia Tedesco, Foodlink President & CEO. “We’re so grateful for the Farash Foundation for giving Rochester schools the resources they need to support their students’ basic needs.”