Foodlink 12/17/23

Ed Smith spoke with Mark Dwyer, the Director of Marketing and Communications at Foodlink.
-Mark gave an updated on some new research that show there is an increased need not only from those in poverty but families with income between $50,000 to $100,000
-He said that requests for support from member food pantries has more than doubled in the last two years
-He believes part of this increase is due to inflation but also the winding down of government support programs that were launched during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic
-Mark talked about the 30th anniversary of the Check Out Hunger program that they do with Wegmans stores locally and how it raised $600,000 this year
-Foodlink is currently doing a campaign with Tops Food Markets locally called Tops Food for Families
-Mark talked about how these campaigns offer an opportunity for community members to support Foodlink and all the people and food pantries they serve
-He said this time of year (the holiday time) is very busy for their distribution staff and volunteers with various donation coming in but an increase in requests for help as well
-They have seen a big increase in people wanting to volunteer as COVID winds down but still encourage people to sign up to volunteer on their website
-Mark said they continue to advocate for more support from NYS to be able to provide all children at grade school level with a free meal each day when they come to school
-It is the 10th anniversary of the Curbside Market. They have five vehicles that go out into the community to provide fresh fruit, vegetables and other food items to people who might not have a grocery store close to their home. He said that you can find a schedule on their website and they do accept WIC, SNAP and credit cards as forms of payment.
-Mark talked about the Foodlink Carer Fellowship program and the great success it has had over the last few years. They are getting ready to start a new class in 2024 and are accepting nominations from educators in the community for students to be a part of the program. It gives the students an opportunity to learn culinary skills, eventually get paid by Foodlink and finally get a job with a local business.
-He said the Community Cafe in the Central Library downtown is another location for students in the fellowship program to work. This cafe is open to the public and has a special reduced priced menu for people struggling financially.