The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Local Food Promotion Program in September announced it would help fund 44 projects totaling $13.4 million, including Foodlink’s “Farms to Families: Promoting local foods and healthy futures through mobile markets.”
Foodlink applied for the grant with the goal of becoming the nation’s first mobile vendor for the USDA’s Women, Infants & Children program, which supports low-income mothers and young children who are found to be at nutritional risk. Foodlink was awarded $481,000 for the project.
“We’re grateful that the USDA recognized our Curbside Market as an upstream solution to not only building healthier communities, but as a means to support our local agricultural economy as well,” Foodlink President and CEO Julia Tedesco said in a statement. “Foodlink strives to make the healthy choice the easy choice for those whom we serve, and through this generous grant we’ll be able to strengthen Curbside’s impact and open up new markets for local farmers.”
Foodlink’s Curbside Market sells fresh produce at affordable prices in low-income communities where access to healthy food is limited. As a WIC vendor, the Curbside Market eventually would be able to sell more types of products and reach more young families in need of healthy food.
“Since we launched five years ago, the Curbside market has effectively attracted and incentivized customers who use (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits,” Foodlink’s Chief Programs Officer Mitch Gruber said. “With WIC we see a vital opportunity for growth, and through the USDA’s support, Foodlink can begin to offer more healthy food retail options for young mothers and children in our communities.”
Curbside Market operates year-round in Rochester and six surrounding counties. Last year, the market made more than 32,000 transactions, with total sales exceeding $216,000. Officials expect 2018 to surpass that.