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food insecurity

Area churches working together to address local food insecurity, food drive on Dec. 4

By Press Release

Press release:

Batavians care about each other and make sure that their neighbors are safe and healthy.  This winter season, there are many people in the Batavia area that are especially vulnerable to hunger and so people are coming together to tackle the issue of food insecurity. 

Three different outreach ministries are within walking distance of each other on East Main Street in Batavia. 

Lydia's Kitchen, located in the First Baptist Church, 300 East Main St., serves home-cooked meals to anyone who stops in for a place to warm up and eat a hot, balanced lunch. Lydia and Pastor Timothy Young of  Living Waters Apostolic Ministries are the hosts and chefs of this wonderful soup kitchen.  They serve five days a week, from 10:00-12:00

The Little Food Pantry is newly located at the First Presbyterian Church. There is a refrigerator outside of the church on the Liberty Street Side of 304 East Main St. that has fresh produce, homemade dishes, canned goods and frozen foods. Anyone who is hungry or trying to make ends meet can take what they need. 

The third food ministry is A Blessing Box, located in front of St. James Episcopal Church, 405 East Main St.. This box supplies people with single-serve items and easy-to-eat food, that requires very little or no prep.

To help keep these three important services available to our neighbors, there is going to be a big food drive on Sunday, Dec. 4, from noon to 3 p.m.

Volunteers from St. Mary's and St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Churches, The First Baptist Church, The First Presbyterian Church, St. James and St. Paul's Episcopal Churches will be collecting the donations at two sites.  The main drop-off is in the Resurrection Parish parking lot, 300 East Main St., Batavia.  The second is at St. Paul's Episcopal Church on Main Street in Stafford in their parish hall.  Both drop-off sites will accept all types of fresh and packaged food from noon to 3 p.m.

We know that this generous city of neighbors will make this drive a success.

Batavia's Little Free Pantry needs more help to help it grow

By Billie Owens

Press release:

The Little Free Pantry in Batavia is looking to spread our reach further into our community to assist more in need, and we need your help to do so. 

By the end of summer we are hoping to erect six mini pantries in Batavia to help more of our neighbors in need. Fresh veggies are in season, and we are looking for people to help reduce food waste and promote food security by sharing with our neighbors. Visit for full details, and to sign up.

There are five different ways you can help us reach this goal:

  1. Host a Mini Pantry -- hosts will make sure the area is clean and maintained along with the help of volunteers. In order to be a host you will need to own your home, or have your landlord's permission to operate one in your front yard.
  2. Host a Little Free Farm Stand this summer -- to help distribute farm fresh produce in your neighborhood, similar to Mini Pantries but without the commitment over the winter.
  3. Volunteers needed to help restock the Mini Panties and Little Farm Stands -- this can include picking up from our drop off locations, or the Farm and delivering to one or more mini LFP’s.
  4. Materials needed -- plexiglass, screws, paint, wood glue, door hinges, and plywood to make the mini LFP’s -- these can be donated directly, or we would be happy to accept cash or gift card donations to be used at Home Depot sent to 124 State St., Batavia NY 14020
  5. Assemblers needed -- We need assistance in assembling them, once we have the materials. For those looking to build their own LFP, to donate, or to host themselves, the construction plans can be found here.

Give What You Can, Take What You Need

Little Free Pantries are a national grassroots, crowdsourced solution to immediate and local need. Batavia’s Little Free Pantry was created last summer to address food insecurity in our neighborhoods, and its refrigerator and pantry are located at 180 Washington Ave.

The Pantry is a place and a way for people to share what they have, and to take what they need, with dignity, without income guidelines, and without judgement. Everyone is encouraged to give and take. Whether a need for food or a need to give, mini pantries help feed neighbors, nourishing neighborhoods.

With your help we can make sure more of our neighbors have access to fresh organic produce over the summer at the Little Free Farm Stands. The Mini-Pantries help in neighborhoods so people without transportation have to walk less during the winter in order to reach the main LFP.

To donate, host, or volunteer, visit:

Little Free Pantry needs volunteers to help grow food in a community garden

By Billie Owens

Press release:

The Little Free Pantry could use your help in our fight against food insecurity in our neighborhoods! Once again, we will be planting a community garden to grow farm fresh produce for the Little Free Pantry in Batavia this summer.

Thanks to the generosity of Tom Ryan of Ryan's Rose Organic Farm and Blue Pearl Yoga, we have a plot the size of a football field to grow nutritious veggies to help ease food insecurity in our neighborhoods.

Please consider joining us for the Big Planting on Sunday, May 23 (Rain Date: Sunday, May 30) and help us plant the seeds and plants that will turn into free farm fresh organic produce for those in need in our community this summer.

The organic farm and community garden plot is located at 3417 Rose Road in Batavia.

We have two time slots available: 10 a.m. to noon, or 3 to 5 p.m. We hope to see you there! 

The Pantry will also be hosting a plant sale and open house at the Farm on May 23 (Rain Date: May 30) from 12:30-2:30 p.m. Donations of plants welcome and can be dropped off at 124 State St. prior to sale, or bring them with you to the Plant Sale at the Farm.

To register to volunteer, and for more information: or #littlefreepantry#spring2021#volunteersneeded

Carryout for a cause: online Applebee's orders tomorrow will aid Little Free Pantry

By James Burns


Batavia’s Little Free Pantry on Washington Avenue is teaming up with Applebee’s on Wednesday, March 17th to help support those in need. 

T.L. Cannon Applebee’s will donate 15 percent of your online order tomorrow to The Little Free Pantry when you order from You must register or have an account and enter the code DOINGOOD. This donation/promo code is for “carside to go” or “pick-up orders” only.

The mini pantry movement is a grassroots, crowdsourced solution to provide immediate and local aid to those with food insecurity. Whether you have a need for food or a need to give, mini pantries help neighbors feed neighbors and nourish the community as a whole. 

The pantry and fridge are located at 180 Washington Ave. in the City of Batavia and it is open 24 hours a day all year. Daily updates about food and other items that are available are updated to the Facebook page daily.

If you would like to donate, please leave donations on the porch at 124 State St., or in the donation bin next to the food pantry in front of the dentist’s office on Washington.

Photo by Jim Burns.

WNY COVID-19 Community Response Fund launches Food Future WNY to improve region's food security

By Press Release

Press release:

The Western New York COVID-19 Community Response Fund, a collaborative philanthropic effort launched in March 2020 to address the COVID-19 crisis in our community, is announcing an important mark of progress for one of its Moving Forward Together initiatives convened to address food security. 

Understanding that food security has been a major need during the COVID-19 crisis, a community-focused, regionally coordinated planning initiative is now underway. This initiative called Food Future WNY includes more than 100 partners representing the entire spectrum of the food system in our region.

Working across nine counties and various sectors, the objective is to address the entrenched and chronic conditions that have perpetuated long-term food insecurity and hurt food-based economies. The highly participatory nature of this project will assure that authenticity of all voices will be evident in the process and final product. 

A food system includes all the processes and infrastructure involved in feeding a population. Regional food systems refer to place-specific clusters of agricultural producers of all kinds, along with consumers and institutions engaged in production, aggregation, processing, packaging, distribution, marketing, consumption, and disposal of food and food-related items.

Following a national search for best-in-class experts that understand the complexity of the food systems from rural to urban challenges facing all sectors of the system, the effort is pleased to announce they have hired SCALE Inc., led by Anthony Flaccavento, for this nine-county effort stretching from Chautauqua County to Monroe County (including Genesee County). Southern Tier West Development Foundation has taken on the role of fiscal sponsor and project co-lead. 

“The ultimate goal of this new effort is to tackle entrenched challenges in new ways and to emerge from COVID-19 with a regional food system that is more effective, efficient and resilient," said Kimberly LaMendola, regional development coordinator, Southern Tier West Regional Planning & Development Board.

"Farmers, producers and processors will be more independent and less reliant on large, centralized hubs; families will have easier access to healthy and affordable groceries; and we will create new food-related jobs that contribute to the economic development of the region. Our collective group is excited about the SCALE team’s wide range of proven experience in strengthening food systems and we are excited about moving this regional effort forward together.”  

SCALE is joined by a curated team of food systems experts: John Fisk, former director of the Wallace Center and instigator of the National Good Food Network; Euneika Rogers-Sipp, founder of Destination Design School of Agricultural Estates, who has also been a Loeb Fellow at Harvard and a BALLE Local Economy Fellow; and Michael Shuman, one of the leading national thinkers and global experts on building local economies and harnessing local capital and investment.  

“We recognized tremendous potential to make much needed change in Western New York to improve the food system and we are already impressed by the level of collaboration underway across the region,” Flaccavento said. “As a farmer myself, I know how challenging it can be to manage the land well, help local communities eat better, and still make a little profit.

"But every one of those challenges is an opportunity. That’s why we are committed to helping facilitate the development of a community-led strategy for shifting the region’s food system to one that is more equitable and resilient, builds wealth in rural and urban communities, promotes health, and is environmentally sustainable.”

Beth Gosch, executive director of the Western New York Foundation, has taken a lead role in designing a process to address this challenge facing our community that is effective and highly inclusive.

“I am so proud of my colleagues who recognize and support an effort that puts the practitioners, experts, and those most impacted by the inequities of the system, at the center, and in a position to assess the regional needs that they are so intimately aware of," Gosch said. "This effort will empower many to recommend the strategy to address the challenges and create new opportunities for prosperity in this region. With the guidance of Anthony and his remarkable team, we can expect to see real change that will affect real people.”

“In addition to addressing the immediate and real food security needs in our communities through the WNY COVID-19 Community Response Fund, this new planning effort has the opportunity to help nurture a best-in-class food system that can ensure equitable access to nutritious food for all, and building the food ecosystem can also be a platform for economic growth and prosperity in our region,” said Lavea Brachman, vice president of Programs for the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation.

As of Dec. 31, the WNY COVID-19 Community Response Fund has awarded more than $8.1 million to more than 400 nonprofits through immediate emergency grant funding and the Moving Forward Together initiative, including a grant to partially support this food systems effort. Other funders of this food system initiative include the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation and the Western New York Foundation. 

Learn more about the WNY COVID-19 Community Response Fund at

'Practical magic' that 'over-wows': The tale of how the city's new Little Free Pantry and 'Freege' came to be

By Billie Owens

From Marianne Skye, director and yoga teacher at Blue Pearl Yoga:

What’s a Little Free Pantry and Freege?

A place and a way for people to share what they have, and to take what they need with dignity, without income guidelines, and without judgement. Everyone is encouraged to give and take.

It is located at 180 Washington Ave. in the City of Batavia, open 24/7. And they are having a food drive!

How did it come to be?

A whole lot of coincidences in a row that added up to this! Interesting story. It started with the Blue Pearl Yogo Studio shutdown in March. Around the studio we call it practical magic, lol.

My friend Tom (of Ryan’s Rose Organic Farm) and I have been playing music and gardening for years.

I always thought it would be nice if I had the time to overplant the vegetable garden and find a food pantry to donate farm-to-table.

So with nothing to do in Spring, a football-field size garden was tilled up and planted. 

Not that I knew a little pantry to donate to yet. But empty bellies are everywhere.

Just when the veggies started coming. ... (Oh those zucchinis!)

I got a call from the sweetest lady on State Street about doing yoga at community event. We’ll call her Jenn, she tries to stay anonymous, good luck with that.   

And the conversation quickly turned to gardening (tree huggers and dirt worshipers are like that) and a little food pantry she started in her front yard, just to connect with her neighbors and lend a hand.

Jenn’s family member gave her the idea, she ran with it, and the veggies showed up right on schedule as did donations of nonperishable food from friends and neighbors.

Beacon of Hope Amid Growing Food Insecurity

You see, food insecurity has become an even bigger problem in this coronavirus pandemic. The idea for the Little Free Pantry and Freege is to be a beacon of hope in these trying times.

The Pantry operates with this philosophy in hopes, not only to fight food insecurity, but also help reduce food waste, sharing our resources wisely, as almost half the food in America goes to waste.

Then mid-growing season, I saw a piece on the news about “Community Refrigerators,” a way for people to share what they have, where everyone is encouraged to give and take.

Jenn was all for it; my neighbors Cindy and Mo on the Southside were all about it; and within a week they had a donated fridge for us and offered to move it. Then Sharon Kubiniec heard that the "Freege" needed a home (I think from Julie W. who coordinates the Community Closet at Robert Morris School.) and offered to give it a home.

More People Pitch In

Then the Just Kings showed up to build a structure around the fridge, and Brian from T-Shirts Etc. showed up to do some art work on the structure, Ashley from CASA, City Church, St Anthony’s, Sharon and Laurie of Schwab Farm are pitched in, so there you have it.

The Little Free Pantry and Community Freege is located to the side of dentist Michael A. Kubiniec’s office (180 Washington Ave.) and is accessible 24 hours a day, all year round. It is stocked with both fresh and frozen food including produce, meats and dairy items.

How do you like them apples? I love this city, it’s so full of neighborly love, and so full of folks who love to get together and have a blast lending a hand to their neighbors! 

I am over-wowed at the adventure and fun this has been and for the good things and good people that came together.

Take care, Marianne 

For any questions or to volunteer feel free to message the page @

Photos courtesy of Blue Pearl Yoga.

USDA announces a third round of Farmers to Families Food Box Program purchases

By Billie Owens

Press release:

Washington, D.C. -- U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced last week the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will launch a third round of Farmers to Families Food Box Program purchases with distributions to occur beginning by Sept.1 with completion by Oct. 31.

The purchases will spend the balance of $3 billion authorized for the program. So far, more than 46 million Farmers to Families Food Boxes have been invoiced and delivered.

“This third round of Farmers to Families Food Box Program purchases is a testament to the great work done by vendors in support of American agriculture and the American people," Secretary Perdue said. "It is also a testament that the program is accomplishing what we intended – supporting U.S. farmers and distributors and getting food to those who need it most.

"It’s a real trifecta, which is why we call it a win-win-win. The efforts of everyone involved form the backbone of the Farmers to Families Food Box Program and its goal to help fill the hunger gap in all of our communities.”


In this third round of purchases, USDA plans to purchase combination boxes to ensure all recipient organizations have access to fresh produce, dairy products, fluid milk, and meat products.

Eligibility in the third round will be open to entities who can meet the government’s requirements and specifications. Proposals will be expected to illustrate how coverage will be provided to areas identified as opportunity zones, detail subcontracting agreements, and address the “last mile” delivery of product into the hands of the food insecure population.

A notice explaining the solicitation process will be issued in the days to come with a webinar and other educational opportunities provided for those interested in participating. 

In the ongoing second round of purchasing and distribution, which began July 1 and will conclude Aug. 31, USDA aims to purchase up to $1.47 billion of food for the program. For the second round, USDA extended contracts of select vendors from the first round of the program worth up to $1.27 billion. Some contracts were not extended at the vendors’ request or reduced based on information provided by the contractor.

Additionally, in the second round, USDA approved up to $202 million in new contracts, via a new acquisition activity, with select vendors whose offers were not previously accepted due to various issues in their proposals. These distributors were selected to increase the focus on Opportunity Zones in order to direct food to reach underserved areas, places where either no boxes have yet been delivered, or where boxes are being delivered but where there is additional need.

The first round of purchases totaling more than $947 million occurred from May 15 through June 30.

More information about the third round of food box purchasing will be made available on the Farmers to Families Food Box Program website at Please monitor the website or subscribe for updates.

Batavia Kiwanis give $2,000 to fund food charities in Genesee County

By Billie Owens

Submitted photos: Jonathan Tretter (top left), treasurer, and Robert Conrad (top right), president of the Kiwanis Club of Batavia, present a $2,000 donation to Foodlink Director of Development Julie Burke. The donation will be used to fund food charities in Genesee County.

Press release:

Kiwanis Club of Batavia has donated $2,000 to Foodlink to help feed children and families in Genesee County. The Club has been serving the children of our community and beyond since 1923.

"Foodlink is proud to serve the residents of Genesee County and collaborate with our hunger-relief partners to help individuals and families overcome the hardships created by the COVID-19 public health crisis," said Julia Tedesco, president & CEO of Foodlink.

"The Kiwanis Club's generous donation comes at a critical time, and helps increase access to nutritious food for hundreds of households throughout the county."

With the help of many local volunteers, Foodlink hosted six drive-thru distributions in Genesee County in April and May; three at Northgate Free Methodist Church in Batavia, two at Penuel Christian Fellowship in Le Roy, and one at Bergen Evangelical Presbyterian Church.

More than 1,500 emergency food supply boxes were distributed to individuals and families in need.

Foodlink also continues to work with its network of hunger-relief agencies (food pantries, meal programs, etc.) throughout Genesee County, which includes several partnerships in Batavia. 

“When the shutdown first started, Kiwanis Club members immediately started reaching out to food-providing agencies regarding the need for volunteers and funding," said Bob Conrad, president of Kiwanis Club of Batavia. "We discovered that Foodlink was providing and coordinating the food resources for our local agencies, such as Salvation Army and Community Action Genesee-Orleans.

"We learned that they can provide $6 worth of food for every $1 spent. We decided this is the most effective way to support emergency food initiatives in the county.”

The funding provided will support existing emergency food efforts in Genesee County, and allow for the purchase of food, expenses associated with storage, and distribution to various partners, food box sites, and hunger-relief programs throughout the county.

According to Feeding America’s recent report, "The Impact of the Coronavirus on Food Insecurity," Genesee County’s food-insecurity rate is expected to rise from 10.2 percent to 15.7 percent, which equates to more than 9,100 county residents who now live in food-insecure households due to the pandemic.

Food insecurity is the USDA measurement used to determine a household’s limited or uncertain access to enough nutritionally adequate food for everyone in the household to live a healthy life.

GCC's Campus Safety team stops shaving to draw attention and donations for food-insecure students

By Billie Owens

Submitted photo and press release:

The Department of Campus Safety at Genesee Community College is once again assisting students who are suffer from food insecurity by joining law enforcement officials around the country who refrain from shaving facial hair through November and into the New Year in an effort to draw attention to the need for donations to GCC's campus Food Pantry, and it's working.

In all, the department's effort has generated six beards but most importantly, in just four weeks, the initiative collected food items and cash donations that will provide at least 25 meals to GCC students who are currently facing food insecurity on GCC's campus.

"The Department of Campus Safety team was proud to participate in the annual No-Shave November in an effort to support the College's Food Pantry and help our own students," said Stephen Wise, director ofGCC's Campus Safety. "I have formally waived our standard policy that prohibits facial hair until January 7, 2020 in exchange for the opportunity to make a real impact on the availability of precious food and personal hygiene items that many students need."

"Our Campus Safety officers interact with students every day and see first-hand how many students struggle in securing a nutritious meal for themselves or some of their family members," said Patricia E. Chaya, dean of Student Services at GCC. "No-Shave November puts a spotlight on the potentially hairy faces of the teams making a difference.

GCC's Food Pantry served more than 330 students and more than 1,100 meals this year and also supplies countless personal hygiene items such as toiletries and feminine products.

Genesee Community College currently operates a primary food panty at its Batavia Campus, but links to similar services through each of its campus centers in Albion, Arcade, Dansville, Lima, Medina and Warsaw, in conjunction with the Adult Educational Opportunity Center (AEOC).

Students in need are encouraged to contact an AEOC representative at or visit GCC's Food Pantry at the Batavia Campus located at One College Road, Batavia.

Anyone wishing to donate to GCC's Food Pantry, whether cash, food or personal hygiene items, can do so year-round by emailing the AEOC at, calling (585) 343-0055, ext. 6836, or simply dropping the donation off to any food bin on GCC's Batavia campus.

Photo: From left are Patricia Chaya, Randal Henning, Mike Donnalty, Brenda Case, Erik Anderson, Stephen Wise, Dan Rimmer, and Shelitha Williams, Ph.D. Missing from the photo are Campus Safety officers John Wolcott, Joe Meacham, Liz Mills, Dave Childs, Dave Lester, Nelson Scott and Bill Wells.

More than 6,600 people in Genesee County considered food insecure

By Howard B. Owens

Press release:

While there are slightly fewer food insecure people in the Rochester area, those who struggle to put food on the table are finding it less affordable to feed themselves and their families, according to a report released Thursday.

Foodlink, the regional food bank, announced the release of Map the Meal Gap 2017, the latest report by Feeding America® on food insecurity and the cost of food at both the county and congressional district level.

The overall food insecurity rate in Foodlink’s 10-county service area dipped slightly from 12.5 to 12.4 percent in 2015, the most recent year for which data is available. Child food insecurity showed marked improvement by decreasing from 20.9 to 19.4 percent. The study also finds, however, that people currently facing hunger are likely falling further behind as they continue to struggle to buy enough food to meet their needs. Food-insecure individuals in the Rochester area now face a food budget shortfall of $514.25 per person each year, up from $492.92 last year, and $402.72 in 2009.

Foodlink serves the counties of Allegany, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming, and Yates. Food insecurity ranged from a low of 10 percent of the population in Ontario County up to 13.2 percent in Monroe County. Overall, 156,530 people, including 52,780 children, are considered food insecure in Foodlink’s 10-county service area. The national food insecurity rate is 13.4 percent.

“While it’s encouraging to see numbers improve in some areas, we know there is plenty of work to be done to assist the more than 150,000 people in our region still struggling to put food on the table,” said Foodlink Executive Director Julia Tedesco. “Our mission is to end hunger. We will continue to serve this community until everyone has reliable access to healthy food.”

Food insecurity is defined as a household’s limited or uncertain access to adequate nutritious food. It is assessed in the annual Current Population Survey (CPS) and represented in USDA food-security reports.

Using data from the CPS, the study finds that nationally, on average, food-secure individuals report spending $2.94 per person, per meal. This is a slight increase from the average of $2.89 as reported in Map the Meal Gap 2016. Locally, that number rose from $2.79 to $2.87 based on Nielsen data that factors in the local cost of food and assigns a “cost-of-food index” to each county. That index rose in 8 of the 10 counties in Foodlink’s service area.

The report also shows that 32 percent of the food insecure population in Foodlink’s 10-county service area has a household income higher than the threshold to qualify for SNAP benefits, formerly known as food stamps.

“That is particularly troublesome,” Tedesco said. “We all know the benefits of federal nutrition assistance programs such as SNAP, and knowing that one-third of our food insecure clients cannot access these vital programs is alarming.”

Map the Meal Gap 2017 uses data from the federal Department of Agriculture, Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics. The study is supported by founding sponsor The Howard G. Buffett Foundation, Conagra Brands Foundation, and Nielsen.

Foodlink is one of 200 food banks in the Feeding America network that collectively provides food assistance to 46 million Americans struggling with hunger. Last year, Foodlink distributed more than 19 million pounds of food, including more than 5.7 million pounds of fresh produce. It supports approximately 500 member agencies across 10 counties and offers dozens of innovative food access and nutrition education programs.

“It is disheartening to realize that millions of hardworking, low-income Americans are finding it increasingly difficult to feed themselves and their families at the same time that our economy is showing many signs of improvement, including a substantial decline in the number of people who are unemployed,” said Diana Aviv, CEO of Feeding America.

“This study underscores the need for strong federal nutrition programs as well of the importance of charitable food assistance programs, especially the food pantries and meal programs served by the Feeding America network of food banks.”

A summary of the findings, an interactive map of the United States, and the full report are available at

2017 Map the Meal Gap report for Foodlink’s 10-county service area:

(Chart reflects data from 2015)


Food insecurity rate

Estimated # of food insecure individuals

Child food insecurity rate

Estimated # of food insecure children
























































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