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Foodlink

May 5, 2017 - 10:09am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Foodlink, poverty, food insecurity, news.

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 map.feedingamerica.org.

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

(Chart reflects data from 2015)

County

Food insecurity rate

Estimated # of food insecure individuals

Child food insecurity rate

Estimated # of food insecure children

Monroe

13.2

98,830

19.1

31,060

Allegany

12.6

6,070

22.8

2,290

Orleans

12.4

5,250

21.8

1,890

Livingston

11.6

7,540

20.3

2,510

Seneca

11.5

4,030

19.5

1,400

Genesee

11.2

6,650

20.3

2,540

Wyoming

11.2

4,640

20.2

1,670

Yates

11.0

2,780

21.1

1,230

Wayne

10.6

9,810

19.6

4,080

Ontario

10.0

10,930

17.7

4,110

TOTAL

12.4

156,530

19.4

52,780

September 29, 2015 - 12:36pm
posted by Michele Lawson in Foodlink, Care-A-Van, food, free, pantry.
Event Date and Time: 
October 13, 2015 - 5:00pm to 7:00pm
FoodLink Mobile Food Pantry St. Paul Lutheran Church 31 Washington Avenue October 13th, 2015 5pm - 7pm
August 20, 2015 - 3:25pm
posted by Michele Lawson in food, Foodlink, Care-A-Van Ministries, free, Batavia Youth Center.
Event Date and Time: 
September 8, 2015 - 5:00pm to 7:00pm
September 8th, 2015 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. Batavia Youth Center 10 MacArthur Drive, Batavia
July 28, 2015 - 2:24pm
posted by Michele Lawson in free, Foodlink, Care-A-Van Ministries, pantry, food, community action.
Event Date and Time: 
August 18, 2015 - 5:00pm to 7:00pm
Care-A-Van Ministries is partnering with FoodLink of Rochester and Community Action to host a mobile food pantry. The exact food items available are not known, but fresh produce will be available. The Mobile Food Pantry is available to Genesee County residents only. There is no income verification required, but you must be 18 years old to pick up food from the pantry. Please provide your own bags/cart/vehicle to transport items to your home.
July 2, 2015 - 3:56pm
posted by Traci Turner in batavia, bergen, public market, UMMC, Foodlink.

United Memorial Medical Center is partnering with Foodlink and New York Fresh Connect Farmers' Markets to offer fresh produce to Genesee County residents on wheels.

The produce truck will make two stops in the county every Monday. The first stop will be from 10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. at the Gillam Grant Community Center in Bergen. The second stop will be from 11:15 a.m. to noon in the United Memorial Jerome Center parking lot in Batavia. The market will run through mid-September. 

The goal of the market is to make fresh fruits and vegetables easily accessible to the community at affordable prices. Cash, debit, EBT and WIC will be accepted as forms of payment. For every $5 SNAP purchase, people will receive a $2 bonus.

June 9, 2015 - 1:52pm
Event Date and Time: 
July 14, 2015 - 3:00pm to 5:00pm
Care-A-Van Ministries is partnering with FoodLink of Rochester to host a mobile food pantry. The exact food items available are not known, but fresh produce will be available. The Mobile Food Pantry is available to Genesee County residents only. There is no income verification required, but you must be 18 years old to pick up food from the pantry. Please provide your own bags/cart/vehicle to transport items to your home.
May 26, 2015 - 4:36pm
posted by Michele Lawson in Foodlink, food, pantry, free, Care-A-Van Ministires.
Event Date and Time: 
June 9, 2015 - 5:00pm to 7:00pm
Care-A-Van Ministries is partnering with FoodLink of Rochester to host a mobile food pantry. The exact food items available are not known, but fresh produce will be available. The Mobile Food Pantry is available to Genesee County residents only. There is no income verification required, but you must be 18 years old to pick up food from the pantry. Please provide your own bags/cart/vehicle to transport items to your home. For more information you can call Care-A-Van Ministries at 343-0328 or visit our website at cavministries.org.
March 5, 2015 - 4:05pm
posted by Michele Lawson in community, food, free, Care-A-Van, Foodlink, pantry.
Event Date and Time: 
March 27, 2015 - 5:00pm to 7:00pm

FOODLINK MOBILE FOOD PANTRY

March 27th, 2015

5 pm – 7 pm

YWCA/Living Waters Apostolic

301 North Street, Batavia

December 18, 2014 - 12:51pm
posted by Michele Lawson in community, food, free, Care-A-Van, Foodlink, food pantry.
Event Date and Time: 
January 14, 2015 - 5:00pm to 7:00pm

January 14th, 2015    5pm – 7pm

Care-A-Van Ministries 309 West Main Street, Batavia NY

(parking lot directly behind DirecTV and next door to Discovery Chapel)

October 31, 2014 - 12:22pm
posted by Michele Lawson in community, food, free, Foodlink, pantry.
Event Date and Time: 
November 19, 2014 - 5:00pm to 7:00pm

Batavia Assembly of God   24 North Spruce Street, Batavia NY

October 8, 2014 - 7:21pm
posted by Michele Lawson in community, food, free, Care-A-Van, Foodlink, pantry, St. Paul Lutheran.
Event Date and Time: 
October 22, 2014 - 5:00pm to 7:00pm
MOBILE FOOD PANTRY October 22nd 2014 5 pm – 7pm St. Paul Lutheran Church 31 Washington Avenue, Batavia NY 14020 Care-A-Van Ministries is partnering with St. Paul Lutheran Church and FoodLink of Rochester to host a mobile food pantry. The exact food items available are not known, but fresh produce will be available. The Mobile Food Pantry is available to Genesee County residents only. There is no income verification required, but you must be 18 years old to pick up food from the pantry. Please provide your own bags/cart/vehicle to transport items to your home.
August 19, 2014 - 6:23pm
posted by Michele Lawson in food, free, Care-A-Van, Foodlink, pantry.
Event Date and Time: 
September 5, 2014 - 5:00pm to 7:00pm
YWCA/Living Waters Apostolic Ministry 301 North Street, Batavia NY Care-A-Van Ministries is partnering with FoodLink of Rochester, the YWCA, and Living Waters Apostolic Ministry to host a mobile food pantry. The exact food items available are not known, but fresh produce will be available. The Mobile Food Pantry is available to Genesee County residents only. There is no income verification required, but you must be 18 years old to pick up food from the pantry. Please provide your own bags/cart/vehicle to transport items to your home.
November 19, 2013 - 3:36pm
posted by Billie Owens in Foodlink, venision donation coalition.

Press release:

Saturday marked the start of deer season for local hunters. An important effort is under way to ensure unwanted venison goes to families in need.

The Venison Donation Coalition has been collecting, processing and distributing venison to food banks in New York State since 1999. Last year, Foodlink received about 127,000 pounds of venison. The protein-rich, lean meat was then distributed to our network of emergency food agencies, like food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters.

Genesee County residents are among the beneficiaries. This county is a part of the Rochester-area Foodlink agencies.

Foodlink is thankful for our various community partners, including the Venison Donation Coalition, who help ensure this is a season to celebrate and that no one is going to bed hungry.

Any hunter interesting in donating a deer can call 1-866-862-DEER or visit the Venison Donation Coalition’s Web site at www.venisondonation.org to find a local processor.

The BackPack Program from Foodlink provides children in need with bags of nutritious food they can discreetly take home and easily prepare on their own.

During 2012-2013, we are serving nearly 1,800 children a week in 29 school districts.

October 19, 2013 - 1:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, Foodlink.

The lines just seem to get longer and longer each month Pastor John Gariboldi and a group of volunteers host a free food pantry in the parking lot off Mill Street Park in Le Roy.

People come from throughout the region to gather up as much food as they can carry, all provided by Foodlink at no cost.

And it's good food, too. Fresh apples, bread, Greek yogurt along with sweet baked goods and cases of water.

"You get everything you can fit in your arms," Gariboldi said. "There are no requirements. Even if last week you went to another pantry, it doesn't matter."

The pantry is a Godsend, said Mary, from Geneseo, who adopted her granddaughter when she was 3 months old.

Mary is raising her granddaughter with only her Social Security check to cover household expenses.

"I got complete custody of her because her mother broke her back," Mary said. "I'll be 80 in November. I'm raising her. She's 14 now and I would love to see her graduate and I'm sure the Lord is going to let me."

Gariboldi said he's had a lifelong passion for helping the poor, the homeless and people in need. He became pastor of Penuel Christian Fellowship, 10 Main St., Le Roy, 10 years ago and started praying for the opportunity to feed the poor.

He got involved with Paul Ohlson and Care-a-Van Ministries in Le Roy.

"I met the Foodlink representative there and she said there was a high need in Genesee County and I thought, 'wow, this is a God thing,' " Gariboldi said. "I said 'would you be willing to do it in Le Roy?' and she said, 'yeah.' "

The pantry started slowly this summer, but by August, the line stretched from the parking lot up to the post office on Mill Street.

Last month, more than 100 people showed up even though it was pouring rain the entire morning.

"A long line shows that it kind of sucks," said Ashley, the mother of two children, a third on the way and a husband who can't work because of disabilities. "It shows that this place is so bad that people have to come out to get free food when there's no jobs."

Government assistance just isn't enough in this economy, Ashley said.

"I get food stamps, but sometimes food stamps isn't enough when you have growing kids," Ashley said. "They eat you out of house and home. I know it's not much, but at least I've got food on the table for my kids. They're not going to go hungry."

When people have a hard time getting food, social service experts call it "food insecurity." An estimated 14.7 percent of New York's residents live in food-insecure situations and 21.3 percent of children don't necessarily know where their next meal is coming from.

According to its Web site, Rochester-based Foodlink "rescues and redistributes more than 16 million pounds of food annually to a network of 450 member agencies in a 10-county service area: Allegany, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming and Yates counties."

In the past four years, Foodlink has seen a 30-percent increase in the number of people it serves.

Cheryl Maxwell, a Le Roy resident who teaches nutrition for Cornell Cooperative Extension, has been coming out to the Le Roy pantry almost from the start, and she said she's seen it grow and she thinks it's an economic issue.

"The last time out, it was pouring rain and they all came out and it was just amazing, the need that I saw," Maxwell said. "Some people might have bills to pay and if they can just get this little bit of extra food it might help them pay an electric bill or something throughout the month. With the economy the way it is, that little bit of food might help them get by and pay an extra bill."

Tracy, friends with Ashley, and a Batavia resident, said she has "a houseful of children" and a grandchild with cystic fibrosis. The food bank is a big help, she said, and not just because of the free food. It's also nice to know there are still people who help others.

"Even if it's just one bag of food, that bag of food is maybe a day or two worth of meals for a family that's having a rough time right now, so it really benefits them," Tracy said. "People need it nowadays to see that there are people out there who really do care."

Pastor Gariboldi delivers a mini-sermon for volunteers followed by a short prayer minutes before the food pantry line opens.

While Pastor Gariboldi hands out donuts, his son fills cups with cider for people waiting in line.

Sarah, from York, said with she and her husband and their child on a limited income, the free food from the pantry is a big help.

Mary brings her own cart to the pantry to gather food for her and her 14-year-old granddaughter, whom she's raising on just her Social Security benefits.

Tracy, left, and Ashley.

July 22, 2013 - 9:24pm
posted by Daniel Crofts in food, employment, social services, Foodlink.

If you struggle with poverty, Foodlink invites you to SNAP out of it.

SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and it is available to Genesee County residents through SNAP E&T (Employment and Training).

Jerome Nathaniel, SNAP outreach and assistance coordinator, is offering outreach clinics to Genesee County families on the last Monday each month at a Foodlink partner agency.  The next one is Monday, July 29 from 9 until 11 a.m. at the Salvation Army, at 529 E. Main St. in Batavia.

According to Nathaniel, this is a change from how Foodlink -- which provides food and nutrition education to 450 agencies in 10 counties throughout Western and Central New York -- has done things in the past.

"We received a grant from the Walmart Foundation in January," he said. "Because of that grant, we have been able to add direct service as a major component (of our mission)."

Prior to this, Foodlink had been working with Genesee County through AmeriCorps Vista, which does not allow workers to engage in direct service. For the past two years, they have focused on providing training to partner agencies (shelters, soup kitchens, etc).

A press release from Foodlink described the SNAP outreach clinics as "a bridge between the Department of Social Services and those applying -- all in an effort to make it easier for all parties involved."

If you can't make it to the outreach clinic, don't panic.

"If you're from Batavia, you can actually just give me a call," Nathaniel said. "I've pre-screened most people more recently over the phone, as a matter of fact."

For able-bodied people between the ages of 16 and 59 who work less than 30 hours a week, the requirements of SNAP E&T are similar to those for receiving unemployment. Applicants must work at least 20 hours per week, and they must be able to provide proof that they are applying for jobs.

At this time, according to Foodlink's press release, 900,000 New Yorkers are eligible for SNAP services and don't even know it.

"A lot of people I've pre-screened have already applied for SNAP benefits in the past," Nathaniel said. "The problem is that the income guidelines are constantly changing. I pre-screened someone in Batavia who applied seven years ago, and this person was certainly eligible this time around."

But changing income guidelines are not the only factor behind the above statistic. Nathaniel points out that many people suffer from "circumstantial poverty as opposed to generational poverty."

"A lot of times," he said, "(there are) people who worked their whole lives and suddenly something changed. They used to have a certain income, and they were used to a type of lifestyle that required a certain level of income. And suddenly, someone in the household got laid off; or suddenly, they've retired and their retirement plan wasn't what they thought it was."

People in this type of situation, according to Nathaniel, would never imagine themselves as being eligible for a government program. But, in fact, they could be eligible for SNAP benefits.

In addition, there are a few misconceptions about the stated criteria. 

"A major mistake people make is that they don't understand what a household size is for SNAP purposes," Nathaniel said. "Ordinarily, you think of a household as meaning just whoever is under your roof -- so five people, for example. But when you're applying for SNAP, what they look at is whether or not those five people share the grocery expenses and share food. So you can have as many as five different SNAP applications in one household. That's five different SNAP households under one roof."

The gross monthly income requirement for SNAP E&T is $1,211 for an able-bodied adult under 59 and without disabilities, plus $429 for each additional person in the household.

For someone over 59 or disabled, the requirement is $1,852 plus $660 for each additional person. Medical expenses (including out-of-pocket premiums), utilities, rent and mortgage are also taken into account for this population.

For more information, call Nathaniel at 328-3380, ext. 150.

Top graphic courtesy of Kim Montinarello

February 14, 2013 - 11:02am
posted by Howard B. Owens in community action of Orleans & Genesee, Foodlink.

Every month, hundreds of people in Genesee County rely on free food programs to help them meet their nutritional needs, and the number of people needing assistance has only grown, according to local food bank officials.

Even as the need goes up, said Laura Sugarwala, nutrition resource manager for Foodlink, funding is in danger of being cut.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed budget cuts funding for the main source of revenue for these programs by 13 percent and puts the budget allocation into the Maternal Child Health and Nutrition Grant program.

The change would essentially end the 30-year-old Hunger Prevention Nutrition Assistance Program (HPNAP).

Agencies such as Foodlink would compete with other programs for a single pot of money. Also, the change would delay the ability of Foodlink and the organizations they serve to budget in advance of providing services, at least to the same degree they can now.

Foodlink helps channel HPNAP funding to four local agencies that feed the hungry -- Community Action of Orleans & Genesee, the Salvation Army, Steven's Table and City Church.

"I see a lot of hungry people, a lot of children this could potentially effect," said Lisa Whittmeyer, emergency service coordinator for Community Action.

Whittmeyer and Sugarwala hope that area residents will stop by the Community Action office at 5073 Clinton St. Road, Batavia, to sign a petition, sign the online petition at FoodlinkNY.org, or write to Assemblyman Steve Hawley and Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer and express support for retaining funding as is for HPNAP.

The proposed cuts would mean a cut in services and the amount of food available, both Whittmeyer and Sugarwala said.

Sugarwala said it will be much harder to provide properly nutritious food to clients of the local agencies if funding is cut.

"In my role as nutrition resource manager, I would have to make decisions, without funding, about what we wouldn't be able to carry in the way of nutritious products, items like low-grain and low-sodium products -- all the things that are important for health," Sugarwala said.

The people who rely on food bank programs are not necessarily the same people who get food stamps or receive other government assistance.

Those programs are means tested and sometimes people reach circumstances in their life where they simply don't have enough money for food, even though they don't qualify for other government assistance programs.

For any of the food banks, anybody who walks through the door and says they're hungry gets a meal.

"People in our service area come from a variety of backgrounds," Sugarwala said. "We don't know everything that's going on at home."

Foodlink, which receives $2 million in annual funding from HPNAP, serves a 10-county region in WNY. Four years ago, a survey found 125,000 people in that service area that don't always get enough to eat.

Since then, food banks have seen a 30-percent increase in the number of meals served. Foodlink is preparing another survey because officials suspect the number of people facing food emergencies regularly may have as much as doubled.

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