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USDA Grant Will Help Expand FoodLink Curbside Market Program

Rochester's FoodLink received $125,000 in funds this week from the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

The Community Food Projects Grant Program awarded over $8.6 million to 33 projects around the country to foster self-sustaining solutions that help make healthy foods available to families living in low income neighborhoods.

Mitch Gruber, Chief Program Officer at FoodLink said they plan to spend a majority of the funds on their Curbside Market Program, which is a mobile farmer’s market that serves about 80 locations a week, in 6 counties.

"We take fresh fruits & vegetables that we buy from local farmers. In the winter time we buy from local wholesalers. It’s just fruits, vegetables and eggs. And we go to various communities that really lack the access to fresh foods."

They set up the farmer’s markets right out of the back of their trucks. Gruber said with this grant they can continue to maintain their fleet of three trucks.

"The initial vehicles that we bought for this program years ago are aging out. And we want to make sure people are getting the freshest possible produce. That means having really good, strong generators and refrigerators and washing stations."

They also plan to expand the connections between the Curbside Market program and the Lexington Avenue Urban Farm. The farm is Rochester’s biggest urban agriculture project, on an old subway bed in the area. They work with about 60 Burmese and Nepali families in the neighborhood to grow produce.