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Tom Ferraro, Founder of Foodlink, Dies

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Rochester: Tom Ferraro, Founder of Foodlink, Dies
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The man who founded Foodlink, one of the nation's first community food banks, died Tuesday morning.

Thomas Ferraro spent 36 years as Foodlink's executive director. He lost his battle with pancreatic cancer at the age of 67. He is survived by his wife and three children.

Ferraro was a man with a vision, one that transformed him from a volunteer at a 19th Ward food cupboard in the 1970s to the driving force behind the largest foodbank in the Rochester area.

Today, Foodlink feeds more than 200,000 people annually throughout 10 local counties, distributing 18 million pounds of food to shelters and non-profit groups each year like Cameron Community Ministries.

"The only reason that Cameron is here is because he could sustain us and we could sustain the neighborhood," said Jennifer Muniga, Cameron Community Ministries.

Winters like this one highlight the need for Cameron's soup kitchen. Last year, this site served more than 70,000 meals. This year, it's been a haven from the harsh winter.

Like Foodlink, Cameron has expanded its services with a food pantry and a kids cafe.

"That's why we're here and Tom saw the need to make places like this be available."

Beyond an expanding infrastructure, Ferraro was able to pass along something more important.

"He was more than just a friend - he was a colleague, he was a mentor," said Matthew Ray, Foodlink board chair.

Ferraro was able to foster the same passions for giving back in others with an army of staff and volunteers as dedicated to feeding the hungry as he was. It's a new generation determined to pick up where Tom left off.

"Tom had very big shoes that we'll filling but we don't expect expect any decline whatsoever. Foodlink is a legacy Tom built and he didn't expect to just crumble or fall apart on a day like today," said Ray.

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