How it all began ...

'The English Muffin Story'

In 1978, (future Foodlink founder) Tom Ferraro was working for Action for a Better Community when he received funding to launch a Community Food and Nutrition Program. He went on the local news (the Eddie Meath Show) to make a community-wide appeal for food to support the growing number of emergency food pantries in the area. He received a call for a food donation from the warehouse manager at Thomas’ English Muffins.

On Dec. 19, 1978, Tom arrived at the warehouse in his wood-paneled station wagon to pick up the muffins, only to discover he’d actually need a much larger vehicle to haul away the generous donation. Since he did not have access to a truck, Tom borrowed an ABC Head Start school bus—and filled it completely!

And thus the Genesee Valley Regional Food Clearinghouse, which changed its name to Foodlink in 1991, was created with the mission to rescue and redistribute food from manufacturers, retailers, and other donors to human-service organizations. 

Foodlink honors Ferraro and that first English Muffin donation each year on December 19, which is affectionately called “Muffin Day.”

Tom Ferraro's Legacy


One of the nation’s first food bankers, Tom Ferraro understood that “no one woke up hungry on any given day without something else having gone wrong first.” His early commitment to addressing both the symptom and causes of food insecurity, and his belief that charity alone could not end hunger, helped evolve Foodlink from humble beginnings into one of the most innovative food banks in the nation.

Among his many accomplishments, Tom served on the board of Feeding America (then named Second Harvest) when it was created in 1979, he helped create a network of food banks across New York State, and advocated for funding for the launch of the Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program (HPNAP), which provides critical assistance for hunger-relief organizations across the state.

He was a trailblazer, a risk-taker, and a true social entrepreneur. His laughter, wisdom and spirit will be forever missed.