Every year, we hold our own version of the Oscars: the Local Hero Awards, wherein readers vote for their favorite local chefs/restaurants, farm/farmers, non-profits, culinary artisans, beverage producers and food or wine retailers, and the winners are awarded with a feature in our March/April print issue. Every weekday till the polling booths close on December 31st* we’ll be looking back at last year’s winners.
Today we’re highlighting Foodlink! The below story originally appeared as part of our Local Heroes feature in the 2010 Spring issue.
*There’s still time to make sure your voice is heard! Vote here for your 2019 local hero chefs, farmers, non-profits and artisans.
LOCAL HERO WINNER Nonprofit Foodlink
Foodlink has come a long way since its inception in 1978 when founder and executive director Tom Ferraro made his first pickup of donated food. He says he had no idea that such a far-reaching, community-driven organization was in the works. Foodlink now provides rescued food to over 500 agencies in the 10-county area around Rochester, and its mission of ending hunger constantly leads to new initiatives. As Ferraro explains, “We are not just trying to do charity work eight hours a day, five days a week—but to create opportunities as a way to create wealth. That’s the thing that will cure hunger.”
Foodlink’s projects include a Community Kitchen, which provides upwards of 2,000 healthy meals a day to city children, using regional grass-fed beef and produce from local farms; and the Farmers Fulfillment Center, which aids farmers in getting their products to local supermarkets.
Some eco-friendly innovations are in the works, including a process that will use the broken-down waste remnants from ethanol distillation to generate healthy soil for urban gardens, and a rooftop hydroponic garden. But ultimately the success of Foodlink comes from the individuals. Ferraro says, “Many of the people we work with are people of faith—faith that what they are doing is the right thing to do, faith in community, in being a good neighbor. They don’t get the attention for doing it, but they keep doing it out of the goodness of their hearts.”