Foodlink Inc., the city of Rochester and the Rochester City School District are taking a new and innovative approach to ensure that children in the community have access to nutritious meals this summer.
As the COVID-19 public health crisis continues to limit food access and has shuttered traditional summer programs, the Summer Meals Partnership of Rochester, grab-and-go meal options will be provided and parents will be allowed to pick up meals without the children being present – which has been a requirement in previous years. The partnership also is introducing more “mobile meals” options for children due to the cancellations of summer classes and reduced enrollment for summer programming and camps.
The three organizations collaborate with community partners such as Common Ground Health and the Rochester Area Community Foundation to organize and promote Summer Meals each year. The Foodlink Community Kitchen and the Rochester City School District prepare and deliver meals to dozens of sites across the city.
To help increase healthy food access in Rochester, the partnership will be collaborating with Regional Transit Service (RTS) to deliver meals to select neighborhoods that do not have an established Summer Meals site, such as an R Center, school or church. This new model, similar to an ice cream truck, will circle select neighborhoods and provide free meals all summer long.
“RTS has a long history of partnering with organizations in the Rochester region to connect people to important destinations and services,” RTS CEO Bill Carpenter said. “The Summer Meals partnership has always done a great job providing healthy meals to children each summer. During this COVID-19 pandemic, the team at RTS is happy to be a part of such an important program and looks forward to working with the partnership to find new ways to reach more children in the community.”
The city of Rochester and Foodlink also will increase the mobile meals program, which sends vans with meals to locations such as libraries and parks, where families often gather during the warmer months.
Last year’s Summer Meals program served nearly 250,000 meals, with an average daily participation rate of more than 3,920 children.