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South Wedge Food Program moving to Avenue D


The South Wedge Food Program has found itself a new home and will be moving out of the neighborhood it’s been a part of for nearly 50 years.

The food pantry plans to move into unoccupied space in the Lincoln Branch Library, which is located at the intersection of Avenue D and Joseph Avenue. The 4,000 square-foot area toward the library’s rear previously housed a chapter of the Hillside Children’s Center. A contract between the pantry and the city of Rochester is up for vote by City Council on Oct. 12 which, if approved, would grant the Food Program a five-year lease for the library space beginning Oct. 15.

The Food Program’s new location was approved by the Rochester Library Board of Trustees in September.

“We’ve been really searching since about January for a new home,” said Executive Director of the South Wedge Food Program Jay Rowe. “The place on Avenue D materialized pretty early on, we toured that in early August, and it was perfect, it had our name all over it.”

Since the 1970s, the South Wedge Food Program has been housed inside office space attached to the Calvary Presbyterian Church at 68 Ashland Street. Developer Patrick Dutton, who owns the property, plans on converting that space into apartments, while leaving the church sanctuary untouched.

As part of the move, the Food Program will also get a new name, though Rowe said the group hasn’t chosen one yet. He added that the organization should have an announcement about the new name in the next couple of weeks.

The South Wedge Food Program is a full-service food pantry that also offers delivery to clients, making the group somewhat unique among other emergency food services in Rochester. During the early days of the pandemic, the pantry saw a sharp falloff of volunteers while the demand for its services nearly doubled.

Rowe said the number of monthly clients peaked at around 3,000 last summer.

“I think the need is still there,” Rowe said. “We’ve plateaued a little but we’ve settled around, and it changes every month, but about 2,000 families every month coming to get food, which is maybe a little out of the ordinary according to some of the other pantries I’ve spoken to who are seeing their volume slow down.”

At the Lincoln Branch, Rowe hopes to do more with the program, including offering some educational workshops around nutrition for families.

From its new location, the Food Program will continue to offer delivery services to the Rochester area, as well in walk-in service.

“We’re a little bit different in that we offer delivery to all areas of the city and surrounding areas for people that, for whatever reason, are challenged with mobility,” Rowe said.

Gino Fanelli is a CITY staff writer. He can be reached at (585) 775-9692 or