Mitch Gruber

I love Rochester and I'm committed to making it the best place it can be!

I believe in public service,
and I take pride in serving our community every day.

When I moved back to Rochester after college at SUNY Binghamton, I started my career in the non-profit sector as a Head Start teacher for Action for a Better Community. I loved working with kids and families in the community, but I became frustrated because I found myself throwing away food at the end of almost every school day. There were a lot of leftovers because we often served low quality food that was not culturally appropriate. I had just spent more than a year traveling and studying in southern Africa where food was scarce, and I could not tolerate so much waste back home.

In an effort to address this problem of food waste I met with Tom Ferraro, who recognized my passion and offered me a job. I’ve been at Foodlink – the region’s only food bank – for more than a decade, and I now serve as the Chief Strategy and Partnerships Officer. My career has been spent addressing the very problems I noticed at Head Start, by mitigating food waste and ensuring the availability of quality food. I’ve also developed and implemented some of the most effective public health, anti-poverty programming in Rochester, including the Curbside Market, Lexington Avenue Urban Farm, and the only cook apprenticeship program in New York State. For this work Governor Cuomo appointed me to his Council on Hunger and Food Policy.

In 2017, I completed my PhD in American history at the University of Rochester. My dissertation analyzed the decline in Rochester’s urban food access during the twentieth century, and argued that a strong municipal government can foster equity and social justice for all residents.

I decided to put this research into practice by running for a seat on City Council. My work on City Council has been focused on building a healthier community, from banning anti-gay conversion therapy to advocating for affordable housing to establishing the first food policy council in Rochester. I proudly serve as the Chair of the Parks and Public Works committee, which has passed significant legislation on critical issues like municipal composting, complete streets, and expanding play opportunities for kids.

My wife Amy and I got married at the Rochester Public Market, live in the historic Susan B Anthony neighborhood, and welcomed our first child into the world just as COVID-19 landed in our community. Starting a family of our own has made us love Rochester even more, and it has magnified my motivation to serve on City Council and build a truly equitable and healthy Rochester.

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