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The economic disruption caused by the pandemic has meant more work for local food banks, and the umbrella organization for the Rochester region, Foodlink.

Chief Strategy Officer Mitch Gruber, also a member of City Council, said that Foodlink has worked to provide additional help with so many people out of work. That includes drive-through food distributions over the last several months.

Noelle E. C. Evans | WXXI News

Foodlink and Partnership for a Healthier America announced on Thursday a collaboration with the COVID-19 Fresh Food Fund. 

Rochester residents economically affected by the pandemic will be able to access fresh and local produce through curbside markets.

“It’s unreal what the impact of that is on people’s ability to access food or people’s ability to feed their families,” said Mitch Gruber, Foodlink's chief strategy officer and a Rochester City Council member. 

photo provided by YMCA of Greater Rochester

 

The YMCA of Greater Rochester announced the opening of a Center for Equity in the Scio Street and Marketview Heights neighborhood on Tuesday. 

 

The center on Lewis Street currently offers free, drop-in academic support for up to 100 students taking online classes, as well as breakfast and lunch through a partnership with Foodlink. Future offerings will include counseling. 

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.

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