Food Security in Summer Months in Western MA

Food Security in Summer Months in Western MA

For children across America, the end of school means the end of book reports and spelling tests, and the end of school breakfast and lunch-their most reliable source of nutrition. In Western Massachusetts, 38,870 kids don’t always know where they will get their next meal. That’s one out of every five kids in the region. Across the country, more than 16 million children live in food insecure homes.

In the summer, these households that struggle to make ends meet all year long are faced with additional challenges. The meals children receive in school are not available and more families with children turn to their local pantries and meal sites to help fill this gap. As a result, these assistance sites can face increased strain on resources during the summer as they try their best to meet demand…

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Hilltown Families Field Trip to The Food Bank of Western MA

Field TripOn Saturday, Sept 15th, Hilltown Families partnered with The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts for a field trip that combined both service-based and community-based learning. Our field trip involved a tour of The Food Bank in Hatfield, MA, led by The Food Bank’s Education Coordinator, Molly Coon. Families got to see the facility up-close and learn how The Food Bank operates, who it serves and individuals can support their mission. The group played games to aid in the understanding of the concepts of hunger and could choose from two hands-on volunteer projects: sorting donations and preparations for The Food Bank’s upcoming fundraiser, “Will Bike 4 Food.”  Here’s a slide show from our visit:

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Interested in joining Hilltown Families on future service-based and/or community-based learning field trips? Email us at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com to be added to our list of interested families/groups.

Looking for resources to support child(ren)/student’s learning of hunger and food security?  Check these out:

What to organize a field trip for your group to the Food Bank?  Find out more in this post:

What else? Find out how you can donate in your community and fight hunger in your backyard with The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.

Community Gardens Help Out Local Food Pantries in Berkshire County

Berkshire County Digs in to Assist Local Food Pantries

Donations of cabbage, tomatoes, greens, carrots, potatoes, onions, and others make a surprising addition to the food sent out to pantries and allow the creative cooks at meal sites to add another dimension of nutrition to their meals. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

The first items that many individuals reach for when donating to a food drive or food pantry are canned or boxed non-perishable items. Now many community organizations in Berkshire County are reaching for shovels as a means to stretch donations and provide those in need with a source of nutritious, organic, locally-grown produce.

Each Tuesday morning the parking lot at the Berkshire Community Action Council (BCAC) springs to life as organizations arrive in pick-ups, vans, and sedans as a tractor trailer filled with food donations from The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts arrives. But, also waiting to be loaded into those waiting vehicles are over 600 pounds of fresh organic produce, harvested three hours earlier less than five miles away. Donations of cabbage, tomatoes, greens, carrots, potatoes, onions, and others make a surprising addition to the food sent out to pantries and allow the creative cooks at meal sites to add another dimension of nutrition to their meals.

Russell Moody, the minister at The Church of Christ in Pittsfield has created the “Giving Garden,” A 200-by-80 foot organic garden proudly displayed on the rolling hill in front of their building. This is the first year for the Giving Garden. With an average weekly donation of 500 pounds the crop yield has peaked at nearly 800 pounds, all going directly to local food pantries and meal sites. The entire garden is supplemented and maintained through donated plants and 100 percent volunteer-driven harvests. Dozens of volunteered man-hours go into producing those 600-plus pounds of food each week.

The Church of Christ is not the only organization localizing food donations in Pittsfield. The Unitarian Universalists of Pittsfield also have a dedicated garden space, along with a mobile chicken coop to provide much needed protein to the local agencies. You can listen to the Unitarian Universalists Garden radio webcast, and find more information about the program here!

There are also community gardens popping up throughout the Berkshires. Schools, housing complexes, and little swaths of green space have been allocated for organic gardens with some or most of the harvest going directly to local food pantries and meal sites.

(Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

With fresh, organic produce speed is of foremost importance. On Monday August 20th, The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts received a large donation of organic eggplant. The produce was sorted and inspected at 9am Monday morning and later packaged and organized for shipment. On Tuesday morning The Food Bank’s tractor trailer arrived at BCAC at 10:25am. By 12:30 as the First Methodist Church in Pittsfield is beginning to prepare it its Harvest Table meal for the evening, food pantry clients are choosing that very same eggplant that was donated to The Food Bank only one day earlier.

With so many new and exciting ideas to assist your local food pantry and The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts find out how you can donate in your community and fight hunger in your backyard.


Join Hilltown Families on an organized field trip to The Food Bank of Western MA in Hatfield on Sept. 15th at 1:30pm. Our field trip will involve a tour of the Food Bank where 7.6 million pounds of food gets sorted every year!   Participating families/groups can see how the facility operates with pallets of food, the walk in freezer, forklifts and staff management.  Games as a group will be facilitated to aid in the understand of the concept of hunger, and there will be a hands-on volunteer project.  This is a free event, open to all! To sign up, click on the banner.

Hilltown Families Field Trip to The Food Bank of Western MA – Join Us!

Hilltown Families Field Trip
The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts
Saturday, September 15th at 1:30pm

Tour the warehouse, walk through the freezer, see the types of foods that are being sorted, and observe forklifts transporting pallets of food onto delivery trucks.   Play a trivia game following the tour to recall some of the key facts about how The Food Bank works. – Join Hilltown Families on Saturday, Sept. 15th at 1:30pm for an organized field trip to The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts in Hatfield, MA.

At the beginning of the summer we wrote about the benefits of families, schools and organizations taking an organized field trip The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts in our post, Visit The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts: A Community-Based Educational Field Trip for Kids. We mentioned that Hilltown Families would be organizing a field trip in September during Hunger Awareness Month and that groups and individuals are invited to join us.

We’ve set a date for our field trip: Saturday, September 15th at 1:30pm in Hatfield, MA!

Our field trip will involve a tour of the Food Bank in Hatfield, where 7.6 million pounds of food gets sorted every year!   Participating families/groups can see how the facility operates with pallets of food, the walk in freezer, forklifts and staff management.  Games as a group will be facilitated to aid in the understand of the concept of hunger, and there will be a hands-on volunteer project.  This is a free event, open to all!

If your family or youth group is interested in joining us, please sign up now.  We will need to know how many folks are joining us and the age range of the youth participants. Submit the information below and we will follow up with a confirmation and more details.

RELATED POSTS:

9 Western MA Libraries Work to Banish Hunger

Western Massachusetts Libraries Work to Banish Hunger

The success of The Hunger Games books and movie has created a community of readers who have enjoyed reading and discussing the stories. A group of libraries in Western MA has decided to invite that community to join in an effort to help banish hunger in Western MA. (Photo: Participating library, M.N. Spear Memorial Library in Shutesbury.) – Thank you to Mary Anne Antonellis for submitting this story.

In The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, residents of Panem, a future country based in the ruins of North America, struggle to survive while working to support the glamour and riches of the capital. Each year, residents of the poverty-stricken districts are forced to choose two children between the ages of 12 and 18, to participate in the Hunger Games, a brutal contest where the participants fight to the death until there is only one survivor.

There are more than 30 million copies of The Hunger Games trilogy in print in the United States alone. A film adaptation of The Hunger Games, enjoyed enormous commercial success upon its release earlier this year and the DVD is set to be released on August 18th, 2012.

The Hunger Games was written for a young adult audience but is widely read by people of all ages. While the story quickly focuses on the Hunger Games, the beginning of the story focuses on the efforts residents of District 12 go through just to gather enough food to survive.

The Hunger Games is a fantasy novel, set in a dystopian society of the future, but hunger is real issue that people in Western MA face today. According to The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, one in eight people—at least 110,000 region-wide—struggles to put a meal on the table or has to choose between paying for utilities or buying food.

The success of The Hunger Games books and movie has created a community of readers who have enjoyed reading and discussing the stories. A group of libraries in Western MA has decided to invite that community to join in an effort to help banish hunger in Western MA.

The following libraries will be hosting events and collecting donations of non-perishable food items to be donated to local food pantries.The collections will begin August 1st and continue through August 20th. Some of the libraries are planning incentives to encourage patrons to donate generously.

  • AMHERST: The Jones Library, North Amherst Library and Munson Memorial Library are all holding food drives to support the Amherst Survival Center. Bring non-perishable food donations to any of these three libraries between Aug 1-20. 413-259-3090.
  • DEERFIELD: The Tilton Library will host a screening of The Hunger Games on August 20th at 7pm. Bring a non-perishable food item for The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. Before the screening there will be a buffet dinner featuring foods The Hunger Games character Katniss and her family survived on. Event is free, but must sign up to attend. 413-665-4638.
  • HADLEY: The Goodwin Memorial Library will have a food-for-fines program in August. Bring in non-perishable food items to have library fines forgiven. 413-584-7451.
  • LEVERETT: Patrons who donate non-perishable food items at the Leverett Library will be entered into a drawing for a set of The Hunger Games triology or a copy of The Hunger Games: Official Illustrated Movie Companion. 413-548-9220.
  • MILL RIVER: The New Marlborough Library will be hosting an event called Banish Hunger. During the month of August, you may drop off non-perishable food items at the library to be donated to their local food pantry. This event will conclude with a screening of the movie, The Hunger Games (PG-13) on August 22 at 7pm at the library. Admission is free with a non-perishable food donation. For more information contact the library at 413-229-6668.
  • PELHAM: Throughout the month of August the Pelham Library will hold a food drive for The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. All contributors to the drive will be entered in a raffle for a copy of The Hunger Games trilogy. A drawing will be held on August 29. 413-253-0657.
  • SHUTESBURY: The M.N. Spear Memorial Library will host a screening of The Hunger Games on Saturday, August 18th at 7pm.  413-259-1213.

RELATED POSTS:

Q&A: 19 Children’s Books on Food Security/Scarcity

QUESTION AND ANSWERS


Do you have a favorite children’s book that touches on the topic of food security/scarcity you care to share? Hilltown Families is collaborating with The Food Bank of Western MA on compiling a list of kids books that have to do with fighting hunger, soup kitchens, food banks, etc. for their Youth Action Hunger program.

RECOMMEND A TITLE:

Publicly post any titles you’d like to recommend below, or submit it privately here:

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FIELD TRIP: The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts

Visit The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts:
A Community-Based Educational Field Trip for Kids

The Food Bank Warehouse in Hatfield, MA.

The summer or fall is a great time to bring your children to visit The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, along with their friends, school groups or clubs to learn more about an organization that plays a BIG role in our communities.

There are 350 local organizations, including pantries, kitchens, shelters, youth programs, and senior centers, who rely on The Food Bank each week to provide groceries or meals to 15,000 residents in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden county.  Nearly one out of every four kids in Western Massachusetts, under the age of 18, receives food from The Food Bank.  If you teach your kids about food systems, include emergency food and consider a field trip to The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.

What happens on a field trip?

  • Tour the warehouse, walk through the freezer, see the types of foods that are being sorted, and observe forklifts transporting pallets of food onto delivery trucks.   Play a trivia game following the tour to recall some of the key facts about how The Food Bank works.
  • Participate in a facilitated activity to talk about what hunger can look like.  Where do we get our food from?  Where does it go to?  How many people struggle with affording groceries?  What are some of the ways everyone benefits from having a Food Bank?  Activities vary depending on the age of the group, from planning out a grocery store list given a limited amount of money, to reading a picture book, to answering true/false questions.  Check out the Youth Against Hunger Education Curriculum for more ideas.
  • Put your knowledge into action! Help The Food Bank with an on-site project or brainstorm a community service idea that you can do as a family after your visit.

How do I schedule a date?

  • The Food Bank is open Monday through Friday, 9-5pm.  Call ahead of time (413-247-9738 x114) to set up a day and time to visit.
  • Tours work best with groups of 6-20 people, and typically last 1-2 hours.   They ask there be an adult for every 5-8 kids.
  • The Food Bank is located at 97 North Hatfield Rd, exit 22 from 91N/ exit 23 from 91S.
  • Please wear closed toe shoes or sneakers.
  • For groups 16 and older, ask them about volunteering as part of your visit.

Web Review: The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts

New Website for The Food Bank of Western Massachusettsnew website

After months of development, The Food Bank is proud to announce the launch of the organization’s new website. Check it out at www.foodbankwma.org.

In addition to providing the same in depth information on the history and mission of The Food Bank that was previously available online, the new site is easy to use for anyone who would like to:

The Food Bank site has a dynamic user interface that will encourage visitors to learn about hunger issues in Western Massachusetts, read about food and nutrition legislation and how to advocate for food policy, and participate in Food Bank events.

Click here to read this page en Espanol.

Manna Soup Kitchen Delivers Christmas Day Dinners to the Hilltowns

Christmas Day Dinner Delivered to Williamsburg Families

Photo credit: (ccl) kaytethinks.

Manna Soup Kitchen Volunteers will deliver Christmas Day dinner to Hilltown families living in Williamsburg who cannot come to the Christmas Day Dinner at the Edwards Church, or get out and enjoy Christmas with others.

This service is new this year to Williamsburg.  Other service areas include Northampton, Easthampton, Florence and Leeds.

All deliveries must be pre-ordered.  To place an order, call Iris at the Salvation Army, Monday -Friday 9am-4pm. (413) 586-5299


Other food/meal resources for families living in the hilltowns:

  • Trinity Church in Shelburne Falls (413) 625-9896
  • West County Emergency Food Pantry in Shelburne Falls (413) 774-7034
  • Hilltown Churches Food Pantry in Ashfield (413) 625-6086
  • Dalton Congregational Church in Dalton (413) 684-1715
  • Hinsdale Congregational Church in Hinsdale (413) 655-2670
  • Northern Hilltown Food Pantry in Goshen (413) 268-7578 (Serving: Chesterfield, Cummington, Goshen, Haydenville, Plainfield, Westhampton, Williamsburg, and Worthington)
  • Food Pantry in Huntington (413) 667-3196 (Serving: Blandford, Chester, Huntington, Middlefield, Montgomery, Russell, and Worthington)

Massachusetts Emergency Food Assistance Program (MEFAP) Threatened

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts writes:

The Massachusetts House Ways and Means has cut MEFAP by $4 million (33%) in its proposed fiscal year 2010 budget beginning July 1st.

MEFAP is important because hungry children need good nutrition to do their best in school.  The elderly have medical needs that are exacerbated when they go hungry due to lack of food. MEFAP keeps people healthy and reduces public health costs.  MEFAP supplies important protein-rich foods that help us provide a nutritious and balanced diet to MORE vulnerable individuals and families than ever before during these hard economic times.

Take 2 minutes to call your state representative TODAY:

  1. Urge her/him to support Amendment #527 & #636 which would restore MEFAP to its current level of $12 million. (To see a list of state representatives, go to www.foodbankwma.org/action.htm.)
  2. Then, tell her/him how important MEFAP is to struggling families in your towns and cities.

Questions? Call The Food Bank of Western MA at 413-247-9738 and ask for Agency Relations.

Take Action: Assist Families While Stimulating the Economy

The The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts writes:

TAKE ACTION AGAINST HUNGER AND STIMULATE THE ECONOMY!

Call your Representative and Senators TODAY. Urge them to vote “yes” to pass the current economic recovery package. Tell them the nation needs it!

The plan includes: an important boost in Food Stamp benefits – now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – and additional funding for food assistance to food banks like The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.

Call toll-free at (866) 544-7573.  If the line is busy, call their district offices:

  • Senator Edward Kennedy (617) 565-3170
  • Senator John Kerry  (413) 785-4610
  • Representative John Olver (413) 532-7010
  • Representative Richard Neal (413) 785-0325

THE ECONOMIC RECOVERY PACKAGE WILL INVEST:

  • $19.9 billion for increased SNAP/Food Stamps spending. (Approximately 97,000 western Massachusetts residents received a total of $210 million in federal benefits in 2008.)
  • $150 million to purchase food commodities and cover operating funds for food banks across the country. (The Food Bank provided more than 5 million meals to over 100,000 people in 2008.)
  • $100 million for emergency food and shelter programs. (Frontline food providers across our region rely on these funds to sustain their operations.)
  • $100 million for formula grants to states for elderly nutrition services including Meals on Wheels.
  • In short, the package includes these and other major investments that will assist families with lower incomes while stimulating the economy during this recession.

Your call can make a difference!

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Suggested Events 11/17/07 – 11/23/07

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

As we celebrate the harvest season this week, it would be a great time of the year to show our kids how we can share with our neighbors. Donating food to your local food bank is one fine way to do so. If you’d like to reach out to other families in our area that are in need, there will be a Food Drive to benefit the Hilltown Food Pantry this Saturday (11/17/07). There will be a curbside drop off happening at 5 Bridge Street in Haydenville, MA, of non-perishables to be delivered to the pantry and distributed to local families. Donations can also be dropped off anytime from now through 12/15/07 at the Legion (same address).

THIS WEEK’S LIST OF SUGGESTED EVENTS IS SPONSORED BY:

GRENDEL BOOKS (www.GrendelBooks.com)

  • Become a Sponsor

To find out how you or your business can help support Hilltown Families by becoming a sponsor, drop us an email or give us a call at 413.296.0096 for more information. We’re offering very reasonable rates throughout the holiday season. By having individuals in our community and area businesses become sponsors, Hilltown Families can continue to offer a weekly list of suggested events, a weekly podcast, updated resources, articles and much more.

  • Submit an Event

If you have a family-friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, or would like to submit your event to the Hilltown Families calendar of Suggested Events, email Sienna at swildfield@juno.com. Comments are warmly welcomed!

Local forecast | Get directions | Free Museum Passes

Events Happening in the Hilltowns

Saturday – 11/17

8am – FAMILY RADIO – While traveling around town, tune-in to WXOJ 103.3 FM in Northampton, MA, from 8-10am to hear fabulous family-friendly music on Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child. This week the winners of the Fids & Kamily Awards will be announced! [All ages] (Free)

9:30am – HISTORIC FOODS – There will be an open hearth cooking demonstration at the Historic Deerfield in Deerfield, MA. Learn how autumn affected the preparation and preservation of foods in historic menus. 413.775.7214 [Ages 6 & up] ($/Borrow a museum pass from your local library)

10am-3pm – HOLIDAY FAIR – At the Hartsbrook School in Hadley, MA, will be a Crafts Fair and Children’s Festival. Make crafts to give as gifts, be entertained and enjoy music, hayrides and a bonfire. 413.586.1908. [Families] (Free/$)

10am – NATURE CRAFTS – Make edible birdhouses at the Berkshire Botanical Garden in Stockbridge, MA. 413.298.3926 [Families] ($$)

10pm – OUTDOOR ACTIVITY -Learn about numerous wild edibles found in our area at the Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton, MA. 413.584.3009 [Ages 4-12] (>$)

Noon – ZOOLOGY FOR KIDS – The Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, MA, will be hosting a discovery program called “Creatures on the Move” every Saturday through 12/29. Kids can learn how fish, amphibians and other creatures move around. 413.443.7171 [Families] (Free with admission to museum)

Tico and the Golden Wings by Leo Lionni

2pm & 3pm – FAMILY THEATER – Picture Book Theater performs Tico and the Golden Wings at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Arts in Amherst, MA. [Families](>$, Borrow a museum pass from your local library)

7pm – FAMILY DANCE – There will be a Family Folk Dance at the First Congregational Church in Wiliamsburg, MA. Traditional folk dances to the music of Katherine and the Borstals. No partner or prior experience necessary. Refreshments. [Families] (Donation)

7pm – MOM’S NIGHT OUT – A relaxing, women-only evening is being offered at Union Station Restaurant in Northampton, MA, sponsored by MotherWoman. Desserts, cash bar, poetry, auction, and more. 413.586.5366 [Mothers] ($$)

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