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Mayor Evans Announces Grant Funding to Help Increase Access to Healthy Foods in Rochester

Written by on May 8, 2023

Mayor Presents Opportunity While Decrying the Loss of Another Pharmacy in the City

The City of Rochester will invest $5 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to increase the availability of healthy foods to city residents.

Today, in a press conference in which the Mayor and City Council President Miguel Meléndez decried the pending closure of the Rite Aid pharmacy at 535 Portland Ave., the City confirmed it is making $2 million available to local businesses through a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for a Healthy Food Grants Program.

Through the Grants Program, the City has been working with existing businesses that are seeking to increase their inventory of healthy foods, purchase equipment to hold, display and store healthy food options, and make renovations and expansions to display and/or expand healthy food options. The City is accepting applications for the Healthy Foods Grants Program through Friday, May 19.

“We have been working on these strategies for expanding access to healthy foods for city residents for many months,” said Mayor Evans. “I am disappointed that another pharmacy closure will overshadow these promising efforts, but I will not allow this development to weaken our commitment to investing in healthy and strong neighborhoods.”

The financial assistance is available to neighborhood markets, meat markets, small-scale grocers, specialty food stores, wholesalers, and restaurants that focus on healthy foods or are looking to sell healthy affordable grocery or specialty food items. Also eligible to receive support are caterers, food carts, and food trucks that are seeking to establish a physical retail location.

Individual grant amounts will be subject to funding availability and the quality of proposals received but could range between $25,000 – $250,000. Proposals are currently being accepted at www.cityofrochester.gov/businessresources.

Beyond the current NOFA, the City is working to establish additional methods of bringing healthy and affordable food options to city residents, including developing a community-wide food system plan and alternative and non-traditional retail strategies to increase access to healthy foods.

As for the pending closure of the Portland Ave. Rite Aid location, Mayor Evans was joined by City Council President Miguel Melendez, City Council member Michael Patterson, and administration leaders, including Neighborhood and Business Development Commissioner Dana Miller and RPD Chief David Smith, to express his deep frustration.

“We work closely with businesses in the city, and have been extremely proactive in trying to reach out to collaborate and work through any concerns Rite Aid might have had about its Portland Ave. store,” the Mayor said. “It’s unacceptable that this company would walk away from a community that has supported them for so many years without so much as a phone call or an attempt to connect with us.”

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