Foodlink to receive American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds

Foodlink joined Congressman Joe Morelle, Monroe County Executive Adam Bello, and other community partners on Thursday, October 13 to announce $1.4 million in proposed funding awarded to Foodlink to expand food access for Monroe County families.

Foodlink’s proposal was selected as part of Bring Monroe Back, Monroe County’s plan that will utilize federal funds received through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Through the efforts of Congressman Joe Morelle, and Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Monroe County is the recipient of $144,080,127 in local fiscal recovery funds. The funds will allow for expanded food access for Monroe County families in Gates, Greece, and Irondequoit.

The proposed project will support food-insecure families throughout Monroe County by providing nutritious meals to households that may have previously struggled to participate in Federal Nutrition Programs (FNPs). Specifically, Foodlink will address two main gaps created by the strict regulations of FNPs; limits on eligible geographies and ages. Currently, FNPs outside the City of Rochester must meet strict income qualifications and — only pay for meals for children (5-18) or seniors. The current guidelines exclude multi-generational programs — a barrier to serve the growing need in towns like Gates, Greece, and Irondequoit.

“The goal of this project is, of course, to provide greater access to healthy meals for multi-generational families in our area, said Terra Keller, CFO/COO of Foodlink. “But beyond that, we hope to prove these ‘non-traditional models’ work and should be supported through federal nutrition programs. In collaboration with other local anti-hunger and anti-poverty groups, we will strongly advocate for revised guidelines for meal eligibility and distribution in the years ahead. On the heels of the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health just a few weeks ago, the time is now to rethink the way we provide greater access to healthy meals.“

This proposal allows Foodlink to serve quality, nutritious meals to multi-generational families throughout Monroe County via innovative community programs such as Foodlink’s “meal delivery truck,” which provides meals to underserved neighborhoods and to anyone in need. The program was piloted in targeted city neighborhoods during the last two summers. With ARPA support from Monroe County, the program will expand into high need areas in various towns as well as serve meals for multi-generational families at the Lewis Street YMCA Neighborhood Center in Rochester and Open Door Mission’s Coldwater House in Gates.

“American Rescue Plan Act funding will allow our community kitchen to expand our services and reach new community members,” said Julia Tedesco, Foodlink President & CEO. “We are grateful for this opportunity granted to us by Monroe County to serve quality food through models that historically were not eligible to participate in federal nutrition programs. We look forward to serving more multi-generational programs like Coldwater House, and we hope this initiative will serve as a model for the evolution of federal nutrition programs.”

“The wellness and vitality of our community requires every person to have access to healthy and nutritious food, regardless of age or geographic location,” said County Executive Bello. “During the height of the pandemic, we saw families across Monroe County impacted by food insecurity. Even today, we see both city and suburban food banks and food cupboards struggling to meet increased demand. Partnering with Foodlink will allow us to reach more people in need.”

“Foodlink is an extraordinary community resource that is helping to ensure children and families have access to the reliable, healthy meals they deserve,” said Congressman Joe Morelle. “I’m proud to have secured this funding through the American Rescue Plan that will allow Foodlink to expand their reach and provide more meals to more families. I’m grateful to County Executive Bello for prioritizing this critical initiative and for his continued work to utilize ARPA investments in a way that uplifts our community and builds a brighter future for everyone who calls Monroe County home.”

“Foodlink provides an invaluable service to Monroe County residents, working diligently to address food insecurity across the region,” said Senator Schumer. “I worked hard to secure these American Rescue Plan Act funds for local governments, and I applaud County Executive Bello for allocating these funds to Foodlink to ensure families all across Monroe County have access to healthy, filling meals.”

“Ensuring our residents have access to nutritious food is critical to the health and wellness of our communities, Foodlink is a trusted community organization that has proven results, reliably providing healthy meals to families across Monroe County,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I fought to secure these critical American Rescue Plan funds for local governments, because I know our local leaders like County Executive Bello know how best to invest these funds in their communities.”  

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