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With its own home, Food Justice widens scope in Geneva

Food Justice of Geneva hoped that when it got a permanent staging area for its produce-distribution efforts, it would be closer to becoming a year-round operation.

“That was one of our main goals — to collect and distribute year-round,” said Henry Faro, who runs Food Justice with Teresa Shaffer, a nurse with Ontario County Public Health. “We finally got a home.”

Last year, City Council approved a $20,134 allocation to the organization for the materials needed to build a 12-by-20-foot walk-in cooler, as well as rental money for the Geneva Enterprise Development Center, which is city-owned.

Food Justice previously staged at the Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church on Clark Street, where Faro is a deacon, but there was no storage space for the fruits and vegetables they gleaned. That meant that food collected needed to be distributed quickly to the host of organizations that are part of their distribution network.

That’s no longer a problem. Food Justice built the cooler in its 3,000-square-foot GEDC space last summer, and it uses the same technology that it did for its mobile walk-in cooler. That involves re-programming the cooler’s air conditioner into thinking it needs to run continuously, providing proper storage temperatures for fruits and vegetables.

The GEDC staging space and cooler allow Food Justice to take in donated and low-cost food for distribution beyond the summer and fall gleaning season and well into winter.

That includes a recent shipment by way of Compassion Coalition of Utica, a non-profit that runs a bargain grocery store in the city but that sometimes has an overflow of produce. Food Justice has partnered with them and recently brought back over 6,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables, much of which has already been distributed, Faro said.

He and Shaffer said Food Justice gleaned more than 29,000 pounds of produce in 2018, compared to 18,535 in 2017.

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