Foodlink has been awarded a $75,000 grant from Morgan Stanley Foundation, which has partnered with Feeding America to provide millions in hunger-relief support for the past 12 years.
The grant award will allow Foodlink to approximately double the number of school pantries in its membership network within Monroe County. At least 10 new school pantries will be launched in Rochester and the surrounding towns, building on the success of other existing Foodlink-member school pantries in the area, such as those at RCSD schools, and the Greece Central School District. The funding opportunity emphasized the implementation of “client choice” — a standard model Foodlink utilizes to ensure we are meeting the specific dietary needs of the populations we serve, and providing a dignified experience for all.
This past year, the pandemic curtailed Client Choice offerings as many food banks and their networks of food pantries were forced to pivot to pre-packed boxes that could easily be distributed in a safe, socially distant manner. This grant provides a unique opportunity for Feeding America members to explore how to incorporate Client Choice in distribution models while still maintaining safety protocols required. The pandemic also made it abundantly clear how vital schools are for our food system. When schools shut down last spring, millions of low-income students across the nation each lost critical access to 10+ meals each week.
Foodlink is proud of the pantries it has established to date through its partnership with RCSD. In the past two years, our pantry network has provided more than 14,000 pounds of food to approximately 2,000 students and their families in Monroe County. Foodlink has also established a “School Pantry Toolkit” based on learnings from the past two years, and set up a network of pantry site coordinators to share best practices and address logistical challenges related to the operation of school pantries.
Foodlink is grateful to the Morgan Stanley Foundation and Feeding America for this grant opportunity, and we can’t wait to get started on this initiative!