Families who ran out of February's share of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP benefits, because of January's federal shutdown needed a break that Foodlink provided.
"Everybody who receives their SNAP got their's earlier in January, and due to the confusion over when the benefits were issued, a lot of people ran out before the end of February," said Tom Silva of Foodlink.
People were welcomed at the David Gantt Recreation Center in Rochester and offered three days worth of food. Monday's distribution was the first of 14 emergency events around the region this week.
"Every little bit helps, so, it does stretch – you stretch it," said Cheryl Sollinger of Rochester. "You stretch it as much as you can."
Foodlink scheduled two to three hours for its emergency food distribution events, figuring it could serve 250 families in that time. The line at the Gantt Center on North Street moved twice as fast. By the end of the first event's first hour, nearly all of the tickets for the event had been taken.
"We are trying to help a household of four have enough meals for at least three days," Silva said. "To get them through the end of this month, and specifically this week while school is out, when kids are not getting at least two nutritious square meals a day."
More than 3,500 households will restock by the end of the week, including families who stop at eight centers beyond Monroe County. It'll help people like Juana Cuesta of Rochester, whose children and grandchildren are used to picking up healthy meals at their school cafeteria.
"This is my first time with this program," she said. "Never been in this one so, I was on public once. They do good."