City to fund $3M in COVID relief to help feed Rochester

City to distribute $3 million among Rochester food pantries

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Three million dollars. That’s how much the City of Rochester will be distributing among six local food pantries and food kitchens. The money is coming from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

St. Peter’s Kitchen is one of the organizations that will be receiving more than a quarter of a million dollars in COVID relief money.

According to Foodlink, thousands in our area struggle to put food on the table. In Monroe County, one out of eight people is food insecure.

On Tuesday, the Rochester City Council will vote on approving the COVID relief funding to try to help provide more access to food.

In Rochester, many depend on the daily meals served by St. Peter’s Kitchen on Brown Street.

Marsha Augustin: What did you have for lunch today?

Javier, Rochester resident: Potatoes, and meat and salad.

Javier was served by Fran Sweeney, who has been volunteering at the food kitchen for the past four years. They see 350 people come through the doors for lunch.

“It’s amazing, it’s so wonderful. It’s so needed. We see the numbers going up all the time. The need is there. It’s so great,” Sweeney said.

The funding from the city will also help with the process and handling of more food in the freezers and coolers.

“Through this grant we are going to provide additional hours for people to obtain food. Whether that be in the pantry or hot lunch program. We are targeting working families. We are going to be open Saturday mornings, do a Saturday lunch,” Robert Boyd, the interim executive director of St. Peter’s Kitchen, said.

Once a week, 50 families pick up a box of food, Monday through Friday. Boyd anticipates 50 families will pick up food on Saturdays alone. The need for food has dramatically increased since COVID, especially in the past year with reductions in SNAP and other benefits.

“People are working; they just don’t make enough to make the ends meet. Forty percent of the people who come here are seniors trying to live on $1,700, $1,800 a month; they just can’t do it,” Boyd said.

In 2020, St. Peter’s Kitchen served about 45,000 families. That’s expected to go up to 160,000 this year.

The kitchen serves lunch Monday through Friday, noon to 1 p.m.