Rochester food bank Foodlink, which distributes food to charities in Rochester and surrounding areas, is mourning the loss of its leader and founder, Thomas C. Ferraro, 67, who died Feb. 11, 2014, of pancreatic cancer.
Faced with a large donation of bread products in 1978, Mr. Ferraro, then an employee of Action for a Better Community and an anti-hunger advocate, saw the need for an organization that could easily accept and redistribute sizable food donations. That’s how he decided to start Foodlink, which originally was known as the Genesee Valley Regional Food Clearinghouse.
In 1983 — its first year as an independently incorporated organization — Foodlink distributed 620,000 pounds of food. Under Mr. Ferraro’s leadership, Foodlink became a 500-member organization that now distributes more than 18 million pounds of food and resources annually through soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters, group homes, senior centers, child cares, afterschool programs, and nonprofit organizations.
“Tom had an unquenchable passion for addressing the societal injustices that kept individuals in poverty and struggling to feed their families,” said Julia Tedesco, Foodlink’s chief development and communications officer. “It was this passion, combined with his deep humility and extraordinary sense of humor that made him an inspirational leader not only to the employees of Foodlink, but to the thousands of people he worked with in our community.”
Mr. Ferraro received many community awards, including the Farash Foundation’s inaugural Farash Prize for Social Entrepreneurship.
He is survived by his wife of 20 years, Regine Calvar; his mother, Marion Ferraro; his sons, Michael, Philippe and John; and his granddaughters, Victoria and Isabelle.
A funeral Mass was celebrated Feb. 15, 2014, at Sacred Heart Cathedral. Memorials may be made to the Foodlink Foundation, PO Box 24173, Rochester, NY 14624.