Beth Adams/WXXI News

The concept of a citizen-led council to inform the community's approach to health and food equity has been discussed in Rochester for decades, according to City Councilman Mitch Gruber.

Now, Foodlink, Common Ground Health and the city of Rochester say it's time to create a food policy council.

"We do not have any designs around what this should be," said Gruber, who is also Foodlink's chief strategy officer. "We're going to use experts and consultants from places like Johns Hopkins to help us figure out makes sense here."

Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers will be getting more money than usual to help with groceries this month, the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance said Monday.

The office said all 750,000 people enrolled in the SNAP program will receive the maximum allowable payment this month, even though some households usually only qualify for a portion of that amount.

Max Schulte / WXXI News

Cars were backed up a block at times as people came to the Boys and Girls Club Thursday to pick up food. 

Most people came by car, while others walked with laundry or shopping carts. Three hundred people were registered for this one and hundreds more for similar events around the area.

Foodlink’s emergency food box distributions are going on throughout the Finger Lakes region. 

There are three distributions in Monroe County this week, two in the city of Rochester, and the other at the East Rochester Municipal building. 

But distributions are also taking place in Genesee, Ontario, Livingston, Seneca, Wayne, and Wyoming counties. 

Foodlink said a typical box includes pasta, canned goods, cereal, among other items.

All distributions will take place in large, open spaces like parking lots in order to maintain social distancing. 

A recent op-ed for the New York Times criticized the federal government’s approach to emergency food aid during the pandemic. The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program includes $3 billion for purchasing fresh food for food banks and other organizations serving people in need, but the piece argues that those organizations don’t have the infrastructure to handle the volume currently required. Instead, the article’s authors say the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)’s existing structure is equip to handle the situation.

This hour, our guests explore current emergency food aid, what the situation looks like locally, and what experts say the federal government should do to serve as many people as efficiently possible. Our guests:

James Brown

There are more options coming for kids who need meals in the city of Rochester during the pandemic. 

Since schools closed in mid March because of COVID-19, Foodlink, the city of Rochester, Monroe County and the Rochester City School District have worked together to serve thousands of meals to kids every weekday

City School Superintendent Terry Dade said they’ve identified underserved parts of the city and are making adjustments to the program.

Foodlink is relocating its satellite location for volunteer operations from the Rochester Riverside Convention Center to a large, empty space in a building on Manitou Road in Gates.  That’s because of the possibility the convention center could someday be needed as an emergency field hospital if local conditions warrant.

At this point, that is not being planned, but Monroe County Executive Adam Bello says that having the convention center available will allow the flexibility to do that if there is a need for more bed capacity due to the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the few activities that remains entirely appropriate during the pandemic is time outdoors, and for many people, that includes planting / gardening / growing. As the weather slowly warms, our guests explore all the things we can do to grow our own food; improve our landscape; and more.

But first, WXXI health reporter Brett Dahlberg joins us for an update on the state of COVID-19.

Our guests:

  • Brett Dahlberg, WXXI health reporter
  • Petra Page-Mann, co-founder of Fruition Seeds
  • Nathaniel Mich, urban farming and edible education specialist at Foodlink
  • Pamela Reese Smith, community garden coordinator for the City of Rochester

James Brown/WXXI News

The town of Irondequoit held its first emergency food distribution Friday at Bishop Kearney High School in response to economic shocks caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Dozens of people dropped by to pick up 50 pounds of food courtesy of Foodlink and the Irondequoit Food Cupboard

Debbie Evans, who founded the cupboard in her garage 30 years ago, has been working more than 12 hours a day, all week, to make sure no one in her town goes hungry.

James Brown / WXXI News

The city of Rochester is preparing for a possible “shelter in place” order that would make staying at home mandatory with some conditions. 

This type of order is under consideration by local leaders across the country as the coronavirus outbreak continues. Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered that all executive orders relating to the outbreak break go through the Department of Health first.

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren said she’s discussed what that would look like in Rochester with Foodlink, Monroe County and the Rochester City School District. A top concern is figuring how people can stay in their homes and have access to food.