About the Foodlink Community Café

The Foodlink Community Café launched in 2021 with a mission-driven, pay-it-forward restaurant concept in downtown Rochester at the Central Library. It provides training opportunities for Foodlink’s culinary apprentices, and delicious food for the public, with costs based on a sliding scale.

PAY IT FORWARD. Generous donations enable us to offer a healthy, affordable Community Meal option (see below) for our customers who are unable to pay the listed price on the menu. All proceeds support Foodlink’s mission of ending hunger and building healthier communities. 

COMMUNITY MEAL. For a minimum of $2, customers can choose any sandwich + a side soup, salad or apples + a drink (milk, water or coffee). All patrons ordering a Community Meal must be present at the cafe, and there is a limit of one per day.

Our menu offers a wide array of sandwiches, soups, salads, and sides prepared by culinary apprentices in the Foodlink Career Fellowship program. A rotating menu is created by Foodlink Executive Chef Casey Holenbeck, who has more than two decades of restaurant and catering experience and is the former owner of Mise En Place in the South Wedge.

Food insecurity affects every county in America. Here in Rochester and the surrounding region, over 150,000 people often struggle with accessing enough healthy food for everyone in their household. Foodlink is a regional nonprofit with a mission of leveraging the power of food to end hunger and build healthier communities.

The café is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Mondays).

Everyone is welcome!

About the Foodlink Career Fellowship

The Foodlink Career Fellowship is a unique culinary apprenticeship that builds pathways to prosperity for people who have experienced barriers to employment. The yearlong program includes both classroom and hands-on training within Foodlink’s state-of-the-art Community Kitchen and at the Foodlink Community Café! Fellows play an integral role in preparing thousands of healthy meals daily for Rochester children, all while increasing the core competencies needed for large-scale food production.

The Fellowship launched in 2018, and recently welcomed its fourth class. Participants spend nine months of training in the classroom and within the Foodlink Community Kitchen before spending the final three months of the program at an externship with a local employer.  Along the way, Fellows gain myriad certifications (e.g. food safety, first aid, etc.) and learn essential job-readiness skills.The program is an official Cook Apprenticeship through the New York State Department of Labor.

Recent graduates from the Foodlink Career Fellowship have gone on to promising careers at places such as Wegmans, local colleges and universities and local independent restaurants.

About Foodlink

Foodlink is a Rochester-based nonprofit dedicated to ending hunger and building healthier communities by addressing both the symptoms and root causes of food insecurity. We serve as the hub of the emergency food system across a 10-county service area. As a leading public health organization, Foodlink administers many programs and initiatives that aim to build the health and wealth of communities.

We provide food assistance through the safe storage and distribution of emergency food to our network of food bank members and community partners. We build healthier communities through innovative programs that create new access points to nutritious foods and empower people to make healthy choices. We drive change through bold career empowerment initiatives and advocacy for a more just, equitable food system. Learn more about how we are transforming lives and creating healthy futures for every community we serve at FoodlinkNY.org.