Hunger Doesn’t Take a Summer Vacation
By now, you’ve probably heard the national news about a public school kitchen manager in Colorado who was fired for giving a free lunch to a crying first grader who was hungry. The manager was fired because the child wasn’t officially qualified for the federally-subsidized lunch program. However, what you may not have heard is that thousands of kids in schools across Western Massachusetts are in this same situation. They are relying on cafeteria staff, teachers and even their classmates to feed them because they don’t have enough food at home.
With so many families struggling with free or reduced school meals, image the challenges they face in the summer when those meals disappear. June, July and August are, by far, the busiest months for our member agencies in Western Massachusetts (which includes food pantries, meal sites and shelters). Approximately 44,665 individuals were served at our member agencies during those three months last year. That’s nearly a 45% increase over the winter months of December, January and February.
The Food Bank and our region’s network of local feeding programs are ramping up to distribute more healthy food to these households this summer, providing critical relief to thousands. Through our Mobile Food Bank, we will distribute food (including fresh local produce) directly to households with children in neighborhoods in our region with the highest levels of food insecurity. In the last 12 months, we have fed an average of 2,143 children every month at ten distribution sites in Hampden, Hampshire and Berkshire counties. In addition, we will continue to work very closely with our member agencies to strengthen the emergency food network, and help them build their capacity to store and distribute more food to the neighbors in need in their communities.
There are many things that the community can do to support The Food Bank’s efforts. Visit www.foodbankwma.org to learn about all the ways you can help us ensure families across our region have enough healthy food this summer.
One unique way you can support The Food Bank this summer is to lend a hand. In partnership with Hilltown Families, The Food Bank will be hosting a special Family Volunteer Day summer series. This is a chance to learn about the issue of food insecurity in our region and the impact it has on the community. The next of these special events will take place on Wednesday, July 15, from 1– 3 p.m. at Mountain View Farm (393 East St, Easthampton). All ages are welcome, as families are invited to help with a number of possible activities, including weeding, planting and harvesting. Reservations are required by contacting The Food Bank’s Education Coordinator at 413-247-9738 or by signing up here.
To learn more about Family Volunteer Day, including other dates throughout the summer, check out the post, The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts & Hilltown Families present Family Volunteer Days!.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chris Wojcik is the Marketing & Communications Manager at The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts is committed to feeding our neighbors in need and leading the community to end hunger. Founded in 1982, The Food Bank is the leading provider of emergency food that reaches individuals and families in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden counties. From their warehouse in Hatfield, they distribute food to their member agencies (which include food pantries, meal sites and shelters) throughout the region. They continue to build a stronger community through a variety of initiatives, including our Mobile Food Bank, SNAP outreach, nutrition education, and our Brown Bag: Food for Elders program.