ROCHESTER, N.Y. — So many people have struggled to have enough food to eat during the pandemic.
Foodlink of Rochester had to drastically change the way it operates to meet the demand.
Now, Foodlink's CEO is taking a look back at what has been an unprecedented year.
The organization has seen a 40% increase in the need for emergency food. It has distributed 26 million pounds of food over the past 12 months.
A lot of that food was given to school children who rely on school lunches but weren't able to receive them as schools were closed down.
Many people lost their jobs this year, which also increased the need.
CEO of Foodlink, Julia Tedesco, says more seniors needed emergency food too because they didn't want to put themselves at risk by going to grocery stores.
Foodlink started grab-and-go distributions for kids at Rochester R-Centers and other distributions for the community to get fresh food.
Tedesco says Foodlink had to redeploy staff to help in the kitchen and warehouse, cut back on volunteers to maintain safety protocols, and create an off-site location to pack food.
"Our operations, from how we screened people to who we let in the building, and obviously how we social distanced, truly changed overnight, and yet we still had to provide those services to the community and do more than we ever have before. We wouldn't have been able to that without the volunteers that still showed up every single day," Tedesco said.
Tedesco says Foodlink still has a large focus on making sure school kids are fed. In the last year, 900,000 snacks and meals have gone to students in Rochester alone.