Pharmacy Partnership at Rochester Farm Offers Valuable Insights

November 22, 2022

Calling it a “three-acre sanctuary,” Wegmans School of Pharmacy student Kelly Jenkins ’25 said you can sense the community and liveliness of The Vineyard farm as soon as you pull into its parking lot.

Members of The Vineyard leadership team with students from the Wegmans School of Pharmacy. Photo Credit: Ria Tafani Photography

Jenkins, along with fellow students and professors, have spent hours volunteering at the farm, located in the northeast quadrant of the City of Rochester, thanks to a partnership between the School and the Vineyard that grew during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Founded by Sister Marsha Allen, The Vineyard serves one of the most poverty-stricken zip codes in Rochester, addressing food scarcity through food distribution programs each weekend and a youth farming program, among other initiatives. When the pandemic hit, Sr. Allen and her team developed a “COVID-19 comprehensive defense hub” at The Vineyard, distributing masks, testing kits, and vaccines, along with educational materials.

The School of Pharmacy, through its ROC Community Immunity program, began to provide vaccine education at The Vineyard. Dr. Ramil Sapinoro, associate professor; Dr. Kelly Conn, assistant professor; and Dr. Amy Parkhill, associate professor, each play a role in the ROC Community Immunity program, bringing expertise in health literacy, public health, cultural competency, and immunology and vaccinology to the educational project. And, they encourage students like Jenkins to become regular volunteers at the farm.

For Jenkins, continued service at The Vineyard has translated into valuable insight on the challenges that members of the Rochester community face, the power of grassroots efforts in bridging inequities, and the role health care plays in creating a holistically-well individual.

“As health care professionals, we are in a unique position to step up and care for our community in all aspects of their lives,” Jenkins said. “The people at The Vineyard are truly passionate about addressing and fighting for the disparities among people of color, those facing homelessness, the impoverished, and countless others.”

Photo credit: Ria Tafani Photography