Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

DiBella’s continues Pay It Forward program

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous local businesses have stepped up to help each other and the underserved population in Rochester. DiBella’s Old Fashioned Submarines Inc. has donated more than $365,000 to food banks in more than a dozen cities across the five states the restaurant serves.

Foodlink Inc. this month received a $100,000 donation from DiBella’s Subs, which will help provide more than 300,000 meals to those in need in the region. Foodlink is the regional food bank that provides donated food to local pantries, among other things.

DiBella’s has begun a Pay It Forward program in which any customer who wants to donate a tray of subs to first responders, health care workers, military and other essential workers will receive 50 percent off that order. DiBella’s will match the rest and deliver the food. More than 100 trays had been delivered by the first week in May, officials said.

The restaurant also offers 50 percent off all subs to first responders. More than 1,500 orders fed more than 6,000 first responders in Rochester as of May 6, and the program continues. The essential worker program has led to more than $50,000 in discounts for “local heroes,” company officials said.

DiBella’s on Saturday concluded its National Nurses Week program, which expanded its Pay It Forward program to include boxed lunches for local nurses. For each customer purchase of a boxed lunch at full price that was donated to an essential worker, the restaurant matched the donation and sent the same number of boxed lunches to nurses in the community.

Finally, DiBella’s reached out to PepsiCo Inc. and Frito-Lay Inc., which came through with tractor-trailers full of packaged snacks to supplement the lunches that DiBella’s has donated. Some recent deliveries have been made to Strong Memorial Hospital, Highland Hospital and Edna Tina Wilson Living Center.

DiBella’s was founded in Rochester nearly a century ago as an Italian import store and deli. The restaurant has more than 40 stores in five states, including seven in the Rochester area.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer

Rochester community bands together during pandemic

The Rochester community is known for giving back and this week there is more proof of that.

As of Tuesday, when the United Way of Greater Rochester Inc. and the Rochester Area Community Foundation began coordinating support for those in need through a Community Crisis Fund, nearly $2 million had been raised, including $1 million from the ESL Charitable Foundation.

“In this time of great uncertainty and great need, our community is doing what it does best—coming together and working together to ensure the needs of families across our community are being met,” said Monroe County Executive Adam Bello at a news conference yesterday. “I am proud to lead a community with this much compassion and willingness to help and with incredible organizations and foundations that are stepping up in the face of this challenge.”

Last week, local foundations came together to pool and disburse an initial $260,000 to help Foodlink Inc. address the immediate food insecurity that resulted from school closures as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The distribution comprises funding from Rochester Area Community Foundation, the United Way, Wegmans Food Markets Inc., ESL Charitable Foundation, the Greater Rochester Health Foundation and the Farash Foundation.

“The giving nature of Greater Rochester’s people truly shines in moments such as these,” said ESL Federal Credit Union President and CEO Faheem Masood. “At ESL, we were exploring ways in which we could help the community during these unfamiliar times, and the creation of the Community Crisis Fund became the ideal opportunity to ensure our donation would best be distributed among those who need it most.”

In the last several days, additional support from MVP Health and the United Way has been committed to the fund. The grants enable regular fund distributions on a rolling basis and help make it possible to move resources quickly and adapt to evolving needs, officials said.

Separately, other businesses and organizations are pitching in to help. TES Staffing beginning March 20 will provide free lunches to community members in need. The organization will have roughly 100 meals in to-go containers being cooked on the spot and available for pick up at its University Avenue offices.

Each meal will consist of a hot dog on a bun and a bag of chips or a cookie. TES Staffing plans to provide the lunches each Friday for a month, but also is looking for businesses and individuals to donate or help in the endeavor, with the goal of turning it into a daily event.

“The closure of businesses and the abrupt decline in the local economy has slowed down our business activities tremendously and has shaken this community and its workers, with no notice,” said TES Staffing President Brian Harding. “As a local staffing agency that relies on this community’s businesses, but also our community members, we feel it is our responsibility to use this time to support the community and its members in need.”

DiBella’s Subs also is planning to help the community through an initiative that will cut prices in half for first responders, health care workers and active military; donate 50 percent of all regular sales including catering orders to community food banks; and waive delivery fees for all orders of $15 or more placed through

“Our primary goals are to do all that we can right now for our communities, for our employees, and those who need us the most who are working hard to keep us all safe,” said DiBella’s President Peter Fox in a statement. “We have to band together and take care of each other. We may not have profitable sales with these initiatives, but it will help us to continue to do as much as we can to employ our team so they can come to work every day and also have the satisfaction of helping others.”

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer