The United Way cooks up a delicious fundraiser with local restaurants

As the coronavirus pandemic has dramatically affected economies around the nation, United Way of Central New York is cooking up a fundraising idea to support the community in multiple ways.

The Kickoff Cookoff (or KOCO for short) is an annual event to kickoff the start of United Way of Central New York’s campaign season. Traditionally, it’s been a food sampling event at the NBT Bank stadium. This year, they are partnering with over 20 local restaurants for 20 days of food and fundraising.

The campaign began on Aug. 20 and will continue through Sept. 8. Local diners can help raise money for the United Way of Central New York Community Program Fund in two ways. Seven local restaurants such as Glazed & Confused, The Ice Cream Stand, Rise N Shine, and are hosting and have hosted a special United Way Day and will donate a portion of their designated day’s sales to the cause.

Throughout the campaign thirteen restaurants will have a special KOCO featured item on their menu. These items include some favorites like the Bit of a Pickle pizza from Toss & Fire or cookie sammies from The Sweet Praxis. Some restaurants have created new dishes just for the event such as Vince’s Gourmet Imports’ United Way Abruzzo Sandwich. This special sandwich is filled with Abruzzo black pepper ham and sharp provolone, topped with bruschetta, Parmigiano Reggiano, lettuce, and a touch of hot oil.

Other participating restaurants include Limp Lizard, Dinosaur BBQ, Oh My Darling, XO Taco, Water Street Bagel Co., and more. See the complete menu and participating restaurants at

Diners will also have a chance to win a $1,000 CNY Dining Package with a social media contest. Follow The United Way of Central New York’s social media accounts and share a photo of any meal from the Kickoff Cookoff with the hashtag #EatUnitedCNY to be entered to win gift cards from 20 local restaurants. All online entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 8, 2020. Full contest details can also be found on their website.

The money raised through KOCO will benefit 87 local area programs through the Community Program Fund. Advance Media NY is a sponsor of this initiative.

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