Community rallies for Foodlink, others on ROC the Day

The community came through for Foodlink in a big way on Giving Tuesday this year.

Foodlink participated once again in the United Way of Greater Rochester’s annual ROC the Day campaign, which allows 500+ nonprofits to fundraise through a centralized website. On Dec. 3, members of the community can make donations to their favorite organizations, as social media is flooded with support for the nonprofit community.

According to the website, more than $766,000 was raised!

Foodlink has been blessed with overwhelming support in recent years — and 2019 was no different. Through the website, more than $18,000 in donations came through from 200+ donors. It represented our highest total since 2015.

Foodlink was also awarded a $500 bonus gift from the United Way and received a generous $10,000 matching gift from the Lindsay House — pushing our total to nearly $30,000!

THANK YOU to everyone who supported our mission on ROC the Day!


From left, Dr. Heather Lee, Dr. Vito C. Quatela, Dr. William J. Koenig and Dr. Ashley N. Amalfi — all physicians at the Lindsay House — toured Foodlink in October. Thank you for your Roc the Day challenge match!

Foodlink responds to yet another attempt to cut SNAP

The following statement has been submitted for public comment, in response to the proposed rule issued by the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS).

READ THE RULE: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: Standardization of State Heating and Cooling Standard Utility Allowances

Foodlink, the regional food bank based in Rochester, NY, opposes the administration’s latest attempt to slash SNAP enrollment, which will threaten the health and wellbeing of New Yorkers who rely on our programs and services. 

We strongly oppose the proposed rule (RIN 0584-AE69) to standardize state heating and cooling Standard Utility Allowances (SUAs), which would result in a decrease in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for more than 7 million Americans nationwide. By eliminating a state’s ability to calculate its own average utility costs, more than 450,000 New Yorkers would lose an average of $63 in SNAP benefits as part of an 8% decrease in benefits statewide.[1] According to the USDA’s Regulatory Impact Analysis, 31% of New York households would see a reduction in SNAP.[2]

SUBMIT A COMMENT: Visit Regulations.gov (Deadline: Dec. 2)

Low-income individuals rely on SNAP to feed themselves and their families because the work of food banks and other charitable organizations alone cannot adequately meet the needs of our community. Last year, Foodlink distributed 19 million pounds of food – its highest total ever. Still, that only accounted for 50% of the “Meal Gap” throughout the 10 counties we serve. For every one meal that a Feeding America member food bank provides, SNAP provides nine. It has been, and remains, the first line of defense against hunger.

When SNAP is cut, poverty rises. When poverty rises, the health of our communities suffers. Last year, SNAP lifted more than 3.1 million Americans out of poverty[3]. A comprehensive report released in Rochester this week detailed how poverty is the region’s top health concern. Its analysis found that the health inequities that stem from poverty result in more years of life lost than all forms of cancer combined[4]. Simply put, reducing or eliminating SNAP benefits for households that struggle to put food on the table will only exacerbate this critical issue.

This is the third major attempt by the administration to sidestep the legislative process – the 2018 Farm Bill – and take direct aim at cutting SNAP for poor Americans. With this proposal alone, Feeding America projects a loss of 568 million meals.[5]  We urge the administration to withdraw this dangerous proposal, and help the individuals and families we serve access the food they need to live healthier lives.


[1] https://hungersolutionsny.org/snap-policy/proposed-snap-sua-rule/

[2] https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=FNS-2019-0009-0002

[3] https://www.epi.org/blog/government-programs-keep-tens-of-millions-out-of-poverty/

[4] https://www.commongroundhealth.org/study-finds-region-s-no-1-health-concern-is-poverty

[5] https://www.feedingamerica.org/about-us/press-room/feeding-america-opposes-latest-usda-proposed-snap-rule-harms-hungry-americans

State officials partner with Wegmans, Foodlink for Thanksgiving meal distribution

Foodlink, Wegmans Food Markets and officials from the governor’s office joined forces Monday to make Thanksgiving a little easier on 80 Rochester families.

Foodlink member Mt. Olivet Baptist Church hosted a Thanksgiving meal distribution after serving breakfast to 80+ clients on Adams Street. Foodlink donated bags of apples, along with potatoes, onions and whole roaster chickens, while Wegmans donated turkeys and a box full of Thanksgiving sides.

Check out the photos on Foodlink’s Facebook page!

Canstruction Rochester announces 2019 award winners

Volunteers visited the Strong Museum of Play Sunday for one of the most bittersweet Foodlink-related events of the year … “De-Canstruction.”

The curtain officially fell on Canstruction Rochester after another successful year, but not before a few awards were handed out earlier in the week. The Wegmans Development Group was the top winner, garnering both the People’s Choice and Best Original Design award at Tuesday’s gala. Wegmans’ “Jafar” structure (pictured above) from the Disney movie “Aladdin” wowed museum patrons and judges alike.

Other award winners (pictured below) were:

  • Best Use of Labels: Young + Wright Architectural and Dwyer Architectural (Jim Kelly)
  • Best Meal: SEI Design Group (Bobo fat & Han Solo)
  • Structural Ingenuity: LaBella Associates (King Kong / Kodak)

Since 1992, Canstruction has raised nearly 82 million pounds of for hunger relief organizations through local design-build competitions across the globe. Here in Rochester, this year’s event will result in over 34,000 cans of food donated, bringing our grand total to over 400,000 pounds of food donated to Foodlink since the start of the local competition 12 years ago. Once again Buckingham Properties, led by Ken Glazer, spearheaded the event as the lead sponsor.

By the numbers: Foodlink’s special holiday produce & protein distributions

At the end of each year, the Foodlink distribution center kicks into high gear to organize two massive holiday distributions of produce and protein to our network of members.

Food pantries, shelters and meal programs depend on these items to prepare holiday meals, assemble food baskets, and provide generous and healthy options for their clients. Each distribution, which supplements our existing food bank orders around the holiday season, requires months of planning, and is executed in the middle of both November and December.

Approximately 120 of our food bank members, such as food pantries, meal programs and shelters, sign up to receive these free distributions.

This year, we’re providing whole chickens, onions, potatoes, apples and winter squash … a lot of it. In fact, both distributions will combine to total 453,871 pounds!

Here’s a breakdown of how it all adds up:

NOVEMBER:

Chickens: 9,370
Onions: 27,498 lbs
Potatoes: 48,850 lbs
Apples: 47,080 lbs
Winter Squash: 31,450 lbs
TOTAL LBS: 196,833

DECEMBER:

Chickens: 13,210
Onions: 31,692 lbs.
Potatoes: 54,040 lbs.
Apples: 60,425 lbs.
Winter Squash: 51,700 lbs.
TOTAL LBS: 257,038

GRAND TOTAL: 453,871 lbs

Procurement of December produce has yet to take place, but for November, we worked with the following local farms: Brightly Farms of Hamlin (apples), H.A. Maier’s of Spencerport (squash), Colby Homestead Farms of Spencerport (potatoes), Triple G Farms of Elba (potatoes) and Torrey Farms of Elba (onions).

Our Nutrition Resource Manager also provided recipes to accompany each type of produce we offered! Check them out below …

Thank you to all of our food bank members who help us distribute food to those who need it most during a critical time of year!

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/.

Foodlink ‘gamechangers’ get to work

From left, Tom Silva, Florence Clemmons, Livia Marques and Margaret Liljedahl.

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A grant from the Wallace Center at Winrock International brought three Foodlink staffers down to New Orleans last week to participate in the center’s Food Systems Leadership Network (FSLN) inaugural Gamechangers Laboratory.

Foodlink applied to the grant opportunity this summer and survived a rigorous selection process to be one of three organizations out of dozens nationwide to join the lab. Florence Clemmons, Margaret Liljedahl and Tom Silva — who have all played key roles in Foodlink’s various community health programs — were charged with developing methods to shift Foodlink away from simply serving the community, to engaging with and working alongside community members to end hunger.

Here’s how Foodlink’s winning project was summarized by the Wallace Center:

“Traditional food banking alone cannot fix the inequities in our food system. Foodlink’s Community Health Team is seeking to transform the conventional model from community-based to community-driven and led, and explore how food banks can shift from social service to social change. This three-member team from Rochester, New York, with its community connections, innovative spirit, and history of collaboration will work in partnership with its Foodlink clients and community members to pilot new and lasting solutions.”

Clemmons has been a manager for the Curbside Market — Foodlink’s mobile farmers market — for more than six years, while Liljedahl leads Foodlink’s nutrition education department. Silva is Foodlink’s Community Advocacy Specialist and leads the Curbside Ambassadors Program, which empowers residents in affordable housing communities to advocate for the market and promote community health.

“We’re looking forward to working with the FSLN Gamechangers Lab to further develop our innovative community health programs and create action plans to democratize them by putting community members in the driver’s seat of their design and impact,” said Meg Demment, Foodlink’s Chief Impact Officer.

Two other grant-funded teams — ReFresh Food Collaborative of New Orleans and GRRO Good Bowls of North Carolina — also attended last week’s conference. The teams spent time learning how to apply structural thinking, design planning, and other tools to their community food projects. Foodlink worked with its adviser, Livia Marques, who led the United States Department of Agriculture’s “People’s Garden Initiative.” Marques took a program that began with a single garden at USDA headquarters in 2009, and transformed it into a movement that led to thousands of volunteers tending more than 1,600 gardens across every state and donating more than 1.3 million pounds of produce to neighborhood feeding programs.

Foodlink will go through a 6-month creative journey to design new strategies for tackling food insecurity through community-based food systems. In March, Foodlink will return to New Orleans and present their collective learnings to a national audience and a group of potential funders at the 2020 National Good Food Network Conference.

Get ready to Check Out Hunger at Wegmans

A crucial fundraiser for Foodlink begins this weekend at Wegmans Food Markets, where shoppers have the opportunity to donate and support the regional food bank’s mission of ending hunger and building healthier communities.

Check Out Hunger officially launches Oct. 27 at more than 20 Rochester-area Wegmans locations. The campaign extends through Nov. 30.

“Our food banking operations and many of our food-related programs rely on these donations, and year after year, Wegmans and their shoppers always come through with generous support,” said Foodlink President & CEO Julia Tedesco. “We’re looking forward to another successful campaign as we approach the holiday season and work with our community partners to put food on the table for thousands of families in our region.”

Shoppers can donate $2, $3 or $5 – or round up their grocery bull – when they check out, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to Foodlink. For more than 40 years, Foodlink has served as the food bank for 10 counties in the Finger Lakes region, and has launched innovative programs that address the root causes of hunger in our communities.

Last year, the 25th year of the campaign, Wegmans customers raised $3,295,214 nationwide, including more than $680,000 to benefit Foodlink.

As the holiday season approaches, please consider a donation to Foodlink and help us Check Out Hunger.