Thomas Ferraro, the founder of Foodlink Inc. and noted local anti-hunger advocate, died early Tuesday of pancreatic cancer. He was 67.
Officials at Foodlink, who announced his death on Tuesday, remembered Mr. Ferraro as a passionate man committed to improving his community.
“Tom had an unquenchable passion for addressing the societal injustices that kept individuals in poverty and struggling to feed their families," said Julia Tedesco, chief development and communications officer at Foodlink. "It was this passion, combined with his deep humility and extraordinary sense of humor that made him an inspirational leader not only to the employees of Foodlink, but to the thousands of people he worked with in our community. He was a remarkable mentor to us all."
Foodlink will be led by a co-executive team of Tedesco and Jeanette Batiste, the company's chief operating officer.
The roots of Foodlink trace back to the early 1970s when Mr. Ferraro was volunteering at a food bank in the 19th ward. At the time there were only three food cupboards in Rochester, all of which saw a rising need for their services.
In 1978, while working as an employee at Action for a Better Community, Mr. Ferraro appeared on the Eddie Meath Show to appeal for more food donations. A representative from Thomas' English Muffins called to make a sizeable donation of bread products, leading to the start of the regional food bank.
Foodlink, originally known as Genesee Valley Regional Food Clearinghouse, was incorporated as an independent organization in 1983, distributing 620,000 pounds of food that year. The organization relocated to a distribution center on West Avenue in 1988 and then to its current headquarters in 2011, a 90,000-square-foot facility on Mount Read Boulevard.
Mr. Ferraro was the recipient of numerous awards during his career, including the Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation's Inaugural Farash Prize for Social Entrepreneurship.
Funeral arrangements have not yet been made, Foodlink officials said.
Read RBJ's 2007 Profile of Thomas Ferraro.
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