The Summer Meals Partnership of Rochester is taking a new approach to ensure all children 18 and younger have access to nutritious meals.
Foodlink teamed up Regional Transit Service for its summer meal delivery.
Many kids are out of school and summer camps have been restricted due to the pandemic. Foodlink needed to adapt to get food to Rochester families. Foodlink is using RTS buses to deliver food in areas where schools and rec centers are scarce, and blasting music so those in need can hear the buses coming.
“We're trying to make sure kids can come out and eat without being in large groups,” said Foodlink’s chief strategy officer Mitch Gruber. “One of the ways we decided to do that was by piloting and going through the neighborhoods we know have very limited access to the schools, and rec centers that are doing grab and go meals.”
"In the middle of the day with ridership down,” said RTS CEO Bill Carpenter, “a lot of stores still closed, we've got the capacity to help out this summer and we are so glad to do it. It is making such a big difference at such an important time."
Right now, Foodlink is distributing about 250 meals, but it hopes that will increase as families become more accustomed to drop off services.
RTS buses, marked with the Foodlink logo, are coasting through select neighborhoods; ice cream truck style, to help deliver free healthy meals daily. Foodlink also brought in a team of young interns to help serve meals and engage with families.
"The purpose of having the youth on the truck is to be able to say ‘I know that park over there or I see a kid over here.’ WE are going to stop the vehicle, have a conversation and get people excited about having a meal,” said Gruber.
“To see people smile,” said youth Foodlink volunteer Irvin Williams, “it makes me feel happy. One day, I had a lady cry, told me how she appreciated it. I felt like I was doing something right.”
This service, going a long way, is taking place all summer long.