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Scroll through our Frequently Asked Questions below to see if we have the answers to any of your questions about Foodlink. Have a different question? Fill out the form below and someone from our staff will be in touch!
While food banks and food pantries are both nonprofits with similar missions, they operate much differently from one another. Food banks rarely provide direct service to individuals in need. Rather, food banks provide food to hundreds of food pantries and other nonprofits throughout the region, which, in turn, serve individuals.
Food banks are larger nonprofits with massive warehouses and distribution channels that serve large regions. Food pantries are typically smaller nonprofits that serve individuals in specific counties, towns or zip codes.
Foodlink collects, stores and distributes food to a network of nonprofit members that provide food assistance to people in the Rochester area. Our members includes food pantries, community meal programs and homeless shelters; as well as other nonprofit organizations with food needs (e.g. day cares and group homes). Because we receive millions of pounds of donated food and can purchase at very low prices — our members save money on their food budgets.
Although Foodlink relies on truckloads of donated food from partners such as Wegmans Food Markets (which donates millions of pounds each year), we also purchase plenty of products, as well. Foodlink’s massive storage capabilities afford us ample purchasing power, so we can pass along the savings to our members. We also support dozens of local farms so we can distribute more fresh produce, which now accounts for about 25% of our throughput each year.
One important source of food is through the USDA’s The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which provides free, U.S.-grown food and storage/transportation funding to food banks across the nation.
Foodlink can only distribute food that meets strict food-safety standards established by agencies such as the USDA, NYS Ag & Markets, AIB, and Feeding America. As a food distributor, populations that are especially vulnerable to food-borne illness (children, elderly, and those with immuno-compromised systems) often receive our products and we must keep their safety top of mind at all times.
We also recently strengthened our commitment to provide healthier foods to our network, with a new nutrition ranking system within our Community Health Commitment.
Foodlink serves 10 counties in the Rochester and Finger Lakes region of New York: Allegany, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming and Yates.
Our service area is more than 7,000 miles, which stretches from the lake shore to the Pennsylvania border.
All of the magic happens here at 2011 Mt. Read Boulevard! Our Community Kitchen was off-site for nearly 15 years before relocating adjacent to our distribution center in 2016. Our food banking operations cover 10 counties with a fleet of more than a dozen vehicles. During COVID, for the first time ever we opened a satellite location to help store food and host volunteers, but that need will likely end in 2021.
The Feeding America network comprises 200 food banks that cover every county in the country. For example, the Food Bank of Western New York serves the four counties to the west of us around Buffalo, and the Food Bank of Central New York serves 11 counties that surround the Syracuse region.
Feeding America helps food banks access food and grant funding, and network with one another to learn best practices and improve efficiencies within the emergency food system.
Foodlink is grateful to receive generous community support throughout the year (e.g. Wegmans Check Out Hunger, United Way, individual donations), and also applies for grants from federal and state governments, and local foundations and organizations to help sustain most of our innovative programs that address the root causes of hunger.
The Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program (HPNAP) — funding provided through New York State’s Department of Health — provides significant support for Foodlink’s food banking operations each year.
Yes! The Foodlink Community Kitchen prepares thousands of healthy meals daily for students in the City of Rochester. We take pride in the quality and nutritional value of the meals we prepare, and hope to expand our meal partnerships in the coming years. Meals are partially funded through federal nutrition programs, such as the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP).
Foodlink is one of the oldest food banks in the nation! We were founded by Tom Ferraro in 1978 (read our “English Muffin story”!). While the first food bank started out Phoenix in the 1960s, Ferraro was among the nation’s first group of food bankers, and helped establish the Feeding America network by serving on its first board of directors in the late 1970s. Ferraro also helped establish numerous food banks around the state, and is credited with advocating for HPNAP funding in the 1980s.