Food distribution

Geneva chef Samantha Buyskes and volunteer Todd Taylor load up a vehicle with boxes of food for distribution to local families. Buyskes said that Blueprint strives to make connections and harness volunteer energy, and this is one example of how those things come together for the community.

GENEVA — A members-only wholesale cash-and-carry food-service supplier has teamed up with a Geneva non-profit to provide healthy foods for families in need.

In April, Restaurant Depot Rochester joined with BluePrint Geneva to provide 75 food boxes to families in the Geneva community.

The effort was led on the BluePrint Geneva end by chef Samantha Buyskes.

Buyskes, a member of the BluePrint Geneva Board of Directors, was asked by the Geneva agency in 2020 if she could create meals for the community, and the well-known regional chef didn’t hesitate to accept. Thus began the Saturday meal distributions during the pandemic.

“It was such an incredible opportunity to give back to the same community that’s given me so much,” she said.

Buyskes, who has worked as a chef at various restaurants in the Finger Lakes region, believes in the importance of addressing food insecurity.

“I’ve always had a passion for giving back in a constructive way, and my work in myriad organizations, charities, dinners, and drives has allowed me to do just that,” she said. “On an even greater note, my role as a chef allows me to dictate exactly what those in need will be receiving. This means not only do we provide food, we provide nutritious items that would normally be very expensive or scarce. Many hungry families need to resort to unhealthy products or fast food due to monetary constraints, so our aim is to minimize this as best we can.”

Added Blueprint President Jackie Augustine: “BluePrint strives to make connections and harness volunteer energy, and this is one example of how those things come together for the community.”

Burt Diferio, general manager of Restaurant Depot Rochester, said the company is glad to help the Geneva organization address hunger.

“We’re incredibly excited to work with Samantha,” he said. “We came up with a list of items that Samantha deemed necessary for the community, including things like flour, sugar, cereal and other stable shelf-life items.”

Diferio said the food boxes are designed to support a family for a “substantial amount of time without having to make compromises when it comes to health or money.”

The donated boxes are taken to a storage facility to await delivery, said the company. Additionally, Restaurant Depot has given Blueprint a $10,000 grant to support the effort to address hunger in Geneva.

Restaurant Depot said it has a long history of community support.

“Our goal has always been to take care of our customers to the best of our ability, so they in turn can do the same for theirs,” Diferio said. “We’re all about finding solutions for people, particularly in the midst of the pandemic.”

“During these hard times, we also have our public community to think about, and those who are dealing with food insecurities,” he added. “Over the past year, Restaurant Depot has been working hand in hand with food banks and community organizations all over the nation to get food to people who need it. Teaming up with Chef Samantha and BluePrint seemed like a perfect fit.”

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