TICKET GIVEAWAY: The Food Bank of Western MA Cider Pairing Dinner

Ticket Giveaway!

Hilltown Families and The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts have partnered up to offer a chance to win a pair of tickets to their fundraiser, Cider Pairing Dinner, for an evening out that supports a good cause (a $170 value)! You pay for the sitter, we’ll pay for the tickets!

CIDER PAIRING DINNER

Join The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts on August 4 from 5-8:30pm for a special Cider Pairing Dinner fundraising event! Dine al fresco while enjoying the breathtaking views at Apex Orchards in Shelburne, MA, with dinner prepared by Wheelhouse paired with locally made hard cider by Artifact Cider Project and Headwater Cider. Tractor tours of the orchard and grounds included! Visit foodbankwma.org/cider-pairing-dinner for tickets and more information.

HOW TO ENTER

Win a pair of tickets and take your spouse, partner, or good friend for a delicious al fresco dinner. To find out how to enter to win, check our weekly eNewsletter which goes out every Thursday morning.

Deadline to enter to win: 8/1/19 @ 3pm (EST).

Not signed up for our free weekly eNewsletter? Subscribe here!


If you don’t win, you should still go! It’s the price of a date night, only for a good cause! Visit foodbankwma.org/cider-pairing-dinner for tickets.

TICKET GIVEAWAY: The Food Bank of Western MA Brunch & Brews Fundraiser

 

Ticket Giveaway!

Hilltown Families and The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts have partnered up to offer a chance to win a pair of tickets to their fundraiser, Brunch & Brews, for an afternoon out that supports a good cause! You pay for the sitter (or take the kids!), we’ll pay for the tickets!

BRUNCH & BREWS

Join The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts on June 15th for a special Brunch & Brews fundraising event at Westfield River Brewing Co. in Southwick, MA! Guests will enjoy a delicious brunch menu prepared by award-winning chefs from Westfield State Dining, along with a selection of craft beers from Westfield River Brewing Company. Take in the picturesque views of Westfield River’s 73 acres of meadow and forest, while playing lawn games and listening to live music. Every $1 raised at the event will provide the equivalent of three meals to neighbors in need. Visit www.foodbankwma.org/events/brews-brunch for tickets and more info.

HOW TO ENTER

Win a pair of tickets and take your spouse, partner, good friend, or family for a delicious brunch. To find out how to enter to win, check our weekly eNewsletter which goes out every Thursday morning.

Deadline to enter to win: 6/9/19 @ 11:59pm (EST).

Not signed up for our free weekly eNewsletter? Subscribe here!


If you don’t win, you should still go! It’s the price of a date night, only for a good cause and while the sun still shines! Visit www.farmtococktail.org for tickets.

PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT: The Food Bank of Western MA Spring Fundraiser

Parents’ Night Out Ticket Giveaway!

Hilltown Families and The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts have partnered up to offer a chance to win a pair of tickets to their spring fundraiser, Farm to Cocktail, for a PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT that supports a good cause! You pay for the sitter, we’ll pay for the tickets!

FARM TO COCKTAIL

Farm to Cocktail takes place on Wednesday, May 8, 2019, from 5:30-9:30pm at Valley View Farm in Haydenville, MA. This fundraising event is a friendly competition where the area’s top bartenders will shake, stir, and dash their way to the most creative cocktails using locally sourced ingredients. Try them all & vote for your favorite cocktail to be awarded the ‘People’s Choice’ winner. Top vote-getters from the ‘People’s Choice’ round will compete in a live round featuring a secret ingredient. An all-star panel of judges determines the finest mixologist! Enjoy live music, hearty farm-fresh hors d’oeuvres & desserts, silent auction, and more!

HOW TO ENTER

Win a pair of tickets and take your spouse, partner or a good friend for a night out. To find out how to enter to win, check our weekly eNewsletter which goes out every Thursday morning.

Deadline to enter to win: 4/28/19 @ 11:59pm (EST).

Not signed up for our free weekly eNewsletter? Subscribe here!

If you don’t win, you should still go! It’s the price of a fun night out, only for a good cause! Visit www.farmtococktail.org for tickets. Use code ‘FOOD’ for $5 off.

Service-Based Learning at The Food Bank of Western MA Supports Neighbors in need

Volunteers play critical role in feeding our neighbors in need

Volunteers from Amerprise visited The Food Bank to help sort, inspect and pack food for distribution.

Volunteers play critical role in feeding our neighbors in need
Each year, dozens of local farms collaborate with The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts to donate thousands of pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables. From carrots, to potatoes, to apples and squash, our local farmers are working hard to support our vision of a region where everyone has access to healthy food.

Last harvest season, local farms donated more than 452,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to The Food Bank. We distributed all of that healthy food to our member agencies in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire Counties. We were also able to distribute that produce through our Brown Bag: Food for Elders program (which served 7,893 seniors last year) and our Mobile Food Bank (providing food to more than 22,000 people).  Read the rest of this entry »

Lend your Voice to Close the SNAP Gap

Closing the “SNAP Gap” for 570,000 hungry Massachusetts residents

At The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, we have a vision of a region where no one goes hungry, and everyone has access to healthy food. Unfortunately, there are still thousands of our neighbors who are going to bed hungry despite the fact that we provided the equivalent of 9.2 million meals last year. From young children to vulnerable seniors, the overwhelming reach of food insecurity in our community continues to widen.

A recent White House report revealed that the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is one of the most effective methods of lifting people (especially children) out of poverty. SNAP has a dramatic impact in our region. Last year, SNAP provided vital food assistance to 150,000 people in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire counties, allowing them to purchase healthy food from local grocery stores, farmers’ markets and farm stands. Not only did SNAP feed so many people, but it also injected nearly $20 million of federal nutrition dollars into our local economy. Read the rest of this entry »

New Year’s Resolution: Volunteering with Your Family

New Year’s Resolution: Volunteering

Volunteers help pack bags of food at a Brown Bag: Food for Elders distribution location.

Each day, The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts relies on the hard work and dedication of our volunteers that share our vision of a Western Massachusetts where no one goes hungry and everyone has access to healthy food. Their tireless work and generous support are just one of the many “ingredients” in the recipe to end hunger.
With the need for emergency food in our region continuing to grow, it takes many hands — all working together — to help feed our neighbors in need. Read the rest of this entry »

Family Volunteer Day with Hilltown Families & The Food Bank in the New Year

Winter months put further strain on struggling households

On a chilly December morning, Volunteers at a Mobile Food Bank distribution in the north end of Springfield finish setting up, as they await the arrival of hundreds of individuals in need of assistance. — In partnership with Hilltown Families, The Food Bank will be hosting our January Family Volunteer Day on Saturday, January 16 from 9 – 11 a.m. All ages are welcome, as families are invited to help prepare food to be distributed to our neighbors in need across Western Massachusetts.

As the days and nights grow colder in Western Massachusetts, we are reminded of the thousands of low-income families that will be forced to choose between heat and hunger this winter season. High costs of heat will further strain the budgets of households already struggle to make ends meet, forcing them to turn to food pantries, soup kitchens and other community agencies to access emergency food. It most instances, these community agencies — many of which are experiencing a slump in donations following the holidays — find it increasing difficult to keep up with the high demand in the winter months.

In a recent report produced by Feeding America, it was determined that many families in Western Massachusetts that are struggling with food insecurity are already faced with crucial choices to keep food on the table. 61 percent reported choosing between paying for food and paying for utilities (such as heat and water). 59 percent reported having to make a choice between food and medicine/medical care. In addition, 53 percent reported choosing between paying for food and paying for housing. Read the rest of this entry »

“Giving at Thanksgiving” Family Volunteer Day with Hilltown Families at The Food Bank

Coming together to end hunger

At a Family Volunteer Day earlier this year, families work together to sort and pack fresh produce to be distributed to our neighbors in need throughout the four counties of Western Massachusetts.

While getting food to people facing hunger is essential throughout the entire year, it takes on special significance during these holiday months. With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, food is on the minds of many people. But, probably none more so than those that are forced to go without during times that are supposed to be plentiful.

Currently in Western Massachusetts, there are more than 235,000 people that rely on food pantries, meal sites, shelters, and other emergency programs to get food. An estimated 33,580 of them are children under the age of 18 (according to Feeding America, the national network of food banks). Of these, 22% (or about 7,000 children) are from households that don’t qualify to receive SNAP benefits, but yet their income is still too low to pay for basic household expenses and put adequate food on the table.   Read the rest of this entry »

How Local Farms Support Food Security in Western MA

Local Farms Help Cultivate Our Community

Last year, local farms contributed a more than 480,000 pounds of fresh produce to The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.

We are fortunate to live in a very special part of the country, allowing for the growth and harvest of a multitude of fresh fruits and vegetables. There is a seemingly endless number of farms in our region, many of which generously provide a portion of their annual harvest to The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts throughout the year. Their commitment to helping feed our neighbors in need has continued to strengthen our community.  Read the rest of this entry »

Solving Hunger: Keeping Communities Healthy & Strong

Healthy Food Leads to Stronger Community

Volunteers prepare to distribute healthy food at a Mobile Food Bank distribution site in Springfield last summer.

There is more than enough food in America to feed every man, woman and child. Yet, here in Western Massachusetts, more than 235,000 people are at risk of hunger and health problems that come with not having enough nutritious food to eat. As individuals, charities, businesses and government, we all have a role to play in getting more food to people in need. Together, we can solve hunger and help keep our communities healthy and strong.  Read the rest of this entry »

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts & Hilltown Families present Family Volunteer Days!

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts &
Hilltown Families present Family Volunteer Days!

Volunteering together teaches children positive values, like kindness, empathy and tolerance, and opens up channels of communication between parent and child. Engaging children in community service can increase their participation as future volunteers, helping to create more resilient and sustainable communities.

Over the years, Hilltown Families has partnered with The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts in several ways, offering families in the region opportunities to engage in service-based learning while volunteering together as a family in support of food security in our region. We’ve organized a field trip and a couple of virtual food drives and told you how you could organize your own field trips and food drives too. We’ve given you a heads-up on youth volunteer opportunities, services for families during summer months, and resources to support child(ren)/student’s learning of hunger and food security, including Children’s Books on Food Security/Scarcity and Youth Against Hunger Education Curriculum.

One of the issues participants learned during our field trip was how difficult it can be for some families to have access to fresh organic fruits and vegetables. In response, we organized a station at our Family Community Service Event to empowered families to learn how to grow an extra row of vegetables in their home gardens to harvest and donate to their local food pantries, and collaborated with local business and farms to offer gleaning opportunities for families.

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts &
Hilltown Families present Family Volunteer Days!

Families continue to seek out new ways to spend time together that supports values and learning, and volunteering as a family at The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts is great way to do just that! In partnership with Hilltown Families, families are invited to attend a series of monthly volunteer sessions where they will help sort food, take part in educational activities, and learn how to take actions to help fight hunger. Volunteering together as a family encourages quality time, increases communication, and provides opportunities for family members to be role models.  Read the rest of this entry »

Hunger Action Month Empowers Our Community to Support Food Security

You can take action to support our community during Hunger Action Month

You can ‘Go Orange’ on Thursday, September 3 to help raise awareness of food insecurity. Share your photos on social media, using #HungerAction.

September is Hunger Action Month, a time when the Feeding America nationwide network of food banks unite and ask everyone to take action to fight hunger in their community. It is your opportunity to join a movement that has a real and lasting impact on our effort to feed more people than ever before.

Hunger affects communities all across our region—rural, urban and suburban. In cities and towns across Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire counties, more than 235,000 people struggle with food insecurity. As individuals, charities, businesses and government, we all have a role to play in getting food to our neighbors in need. During Hunger Action Month, you can find a way that’s right for you to make a difference. There are a number of ways to help, including raising awareness of hunger issues, advocating for change, donating food and funds, or volunteering your time and skills. We all have a role to play in getting food to our neighbors in need.

Here are just a few of the opportunities you have to get involved:  Read the rest of this entry »

Family Volunteer Day Summer Series Supports Food Security All Summer Long

Hunger Doesn’t Take a Summer Vacation

During the summer months of June, July and August, food pantries and meal sites across Western Mass. see a 45% increase in visits over the holiday season. (Photo courtesy of Feeding America)

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.  Read the rest of this entry »

Family Volunteer Day Summer Series Supplements Food Deserts in Western MA

Food Deserts in Western MA Leaves Many Families Without Access to Healthy Food

Residents of a Springfield community line-up to receive fresh and non-perishable healthy food from The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts’ Mobile Food Bank. 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!.

The USDA defines a food deserts as a part of the country vapid of fresh fruit, vegetables and other healthy foods. They are typically found in impoverished areas. This is largely due to a lack of grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and healthy food providers. These areas rely heavily on local convenience stores that provide a wealth of processed sugar- and fat-laden foods that are known contributors to our nation’s obesity epidemic. The USDA has identified several areas right here in Western Massachusetts considered to be food deserts.

As the leader of emergency food assistance in our region, The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts has been working to reach these communities to ensure that everyone has access to fresh, healthy food. It’s been nearly two years since we launched our pilot program for the Mobile Food Bank — a delivery truck full of fresh and non-perishable groceries from our warehouse in Hatfield, shipped directly to a community site. The program reaches underserved populations throughout our region that don’t have access to fresh, healthy food. These food deserts lack local grocery stores, farmers’ markets and other healthy food providers. Read the rest of this entry »

Recognizing and Supporting Seniors during Older Americans Month

‘Get into the Act’

Senior volunteers have fun and prepare bags of groceries to be distributed through The Food Bank’s Brown Bag: Food for Elders program. Click here to register to join The Food Bank and Hilltown Families for another free Family Volunteer Day on Saturday, May 9 from 9-11:30am.

In May, the nation will be celebrating Older Americans Month to recognize seniors’ contributions and provide them with resources to stay healthy and active. Older adults are a vital part of our society. Since 1963, communities across the country have shown their gratitude by celebrating Older Americans Month each May. The theme of this year’s celebration is “Get into the Act,” to focus on how seniors are taking charge of their health, getting engaged in their communities, and making a positive impact in the lives of others.

Throughout the country, older Americans face a number of unique challenges that contribute to food insecurity. Many seniors are living on fixed incomes that often force them to choose between paying for healthcare or prescriptions and buying groceries. Although food insecurity affects people of all ages, seniors are particularly vulnerable because they have unique nutritional needs related to aging and/or medical conditions.  Read the rest of this entry »

Build Community & Inspire Change During National Volunteer Month

National Volunteer Month provides opportunities for the entire family to support the community

Families from across Western Massachusetts joined together at a recent Family Volunteer Day held at The Food Bank to sort and pack fresh produce. The food is distributed through The Fook Bank’s ‘Mobile Food Bank’ and ‘Brown Bag: Food for Elders’ programs, to food insecure families throughout the region.

April in National Volunteer Month — a time when we celebrate and honor the people who dedicate themselves to taking action and support their community. The month-long celebration is about inspiring, recognizing and encouraging people to seek out imaginative ways to engage in their communities. By working together, we can meet our challenges and accomplish all of our goals.

One of the best aspects of volunteering is that there are so many different reasons to get involved. It’s a fun opportunity to meet new people, network and gain new working skills. It’s also a great way to help an organization that aligns with your personal values and beliefs. Most importantly, volunteering is the best way to support your community.

At The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, we rely on the continued efforts of our volunteers to help us provide healthy food to the more than 235,000 people in our region struggling with food insecurity. We asked some of our volunteers why they donate their time to us. Here’s what they had to say:  Read the rest of this entry »

Nutrition Month Reminds Us What Eating “Well” Truly Means

Nutrition plays active role in supporting the community

Join us to honor National Nutrition Month. The Food Bank and Hilltown Families are holding a very special Family Volunteer Day at our Hatfield facility on Saturday, March 21. In addition to learning about hunger in our region and helping to prepare food for distribution, the event will also focus on healthy eating habits by providing a fun cooking demonstration. Click here to learn more about this event and how your family can participate.

March is National Nutrition Month — a campaign aimed at raising awareness of the importance of making informed choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. It highlights the value of adopting eating and physical activity plans  focused on consuming fewer calories and getting daily exercise in order to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of chronic disease and promote overall health.

Hunger is not just about lack of food. It’s also about lack of nutritious food. That’s why, at The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, we are dedicated to providing our neighbors in need with the healthiest foods possible. Every year, our farm in Hadley provides 100,000 pounds of fresh, chemical-free produce for us to distribute to our member agencies (including pantries, meal sites and shelters). We also work closely with many local farmers, who generously donated more than 266,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables in 2014. In the past year, our Mobile Food Bank has provided hundreds of thousands of pounds of produce directly to families in areas when they may not otherwise have access. Read the rest of this entry »

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts & Hilltown Families present Family Volunteer Days!

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts &
Hilltown Families present Family Volunteer Days!

Volunteering together teaches children positive values, like kindness, empathy and tolerance, and opens up channels of communication between parent and child. Engaging children in community service can increase their participation as future volunteers, helping to create more resilient and sustainable communities.

Over the years, Hilltown Families has partnered with The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts in several ways, offering families in the region opportunities to engage in service-based learning while volunteering together as a family in support of food security in our region. We’ve organized a field trip and a couple of virtual food drives and told you how you could organize your own field trips and food drives too. We’ve given you a heads-up on youth volunteer opportunities, services for families during summer months, and resources to support child(ren)/student’s learning of hunger and food security, including Children’s Books on Food Security/Scarcity and Youth Against Hunger Education Curriculum.

One of the issues participants learned during our field trip was how difficult it can be for some families to have access to fresh organic fruits and vegetables. In response, we organized a station at our Family Community Service Event to empowered families to learn how to grow an extra row of vegetables in their home gardens to harvest and donate to their local food pantries, and collaborated with local business and farms to offer gleaning opportunities for families.

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts &
Hilltown Families present Family Volunteer Days!

Families continue to seek out new ways to spend time together that supports values and learning, and volunteering as a family at The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts is great way to do just that! In partnership with Hilltown Families, families are invited to attend a series of monthly volunteer sessions where they will help sort food, take part in educational activities, and learn how to take actions to help fight hunger. Volunteering together as a family encourages quality time, increases communication, and provides opportunities for family members to be role models.  Read the rest of this entry »

Kids Day of Community Service Benefits Many!

Hilltown Families &  Whole Foods Market
Kids Day of Community Service Benefits Many!

This past Saturday at Atlas Farm in Deerfield, Hilltown Families collaborated with Whole Foods Market and brought families together in the fields for a day of community service, gleaning 669 POUNDS of organic kale, collards, chard and broccoli leftover from a recent harvest to donate to the Food Bank of Western MA!

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This community service-based learning experience is one in a string of events Hilltown Families has organized over the past year in a effort to support food security in the region, offering families opportunities to participate in community service together. Last September (2012), Hilltown Families organized a field trip to the Food Bank of Western MA where families were able to see how the Food Bank operates while learning about food security efforts in the region and participating in hands-on community service projects. This past May (2013) at the Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Event we partnered with Grow Food Northampton and empowered families to grow an extra row of vegetables in their home gardens to harvest and donate to their local food pantries.

When Whole Foods Market in Hadley approached Hilltown Families this summer with the idea of collaborating in a community service event during Hunger Action Month, we wanted to tie it in to this theme of supporting food security in the region.  We suggested collaborating with a local farm and organizing a trip to glean left over vegetables from their fields to donate to The Food Bank. Atlas Farm, a local vendor at Whole Foods Market, welcomed the idea and together we were able to bring in families and glean 669 pounds of organic vegetable! Whole Kids Foundation provided a build-your-own salad-bar lunch following work in the field, giving families a chance to enjoy healthy eating together.

“Hilltown Families and Whole Foods Market Kids Day of Community Service was a wonderful service learning experience for my son,” writes Ronna Kullberg of Northampton, MA. “Not only did he get a deeper understanding of community involvement, but a closer look at where his food comes from. Terrific experience all around!”

Collaborating in the creation of community service experiences gives Western MA families opportunities to be engaged in their community.  This directly supports Hilltown Families mission to nurture and create resilient and sustainable communities by developing and strengthening a sense of place in our children and citizens.  Whole Foods Market in Hadley has consistently been a supporter of the community building work of Hilltown Families and we thank them for their ongoing support and service to our community!

In this video, volunteer Andy Wallace covered a couple of Hilltown Families community service events, including our collaboration with the Art Garden for Flowers for Friends,  and our Family Community Service Event this past May. Check it out and get a glimpse into the mission of Hilltown Families and how community service-based learning is an important piece of community engagement and in developing a sense of place in our children:

Thank you Andy Wallace for the video and Steve Roslonek of SteveSongs for the soundtrack!

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…

Read the rest of this entry »

“A Place at the Table” Explores Solutions to Food Insecurity

Screening of A Place at the Table at the Amherst Cinema

50 million people in the U.S.—one in five children—don’t know where their next meal is coming from, despite our having the means to provide nutritious, affordable food for all Americans.

And of the 50 million facing hunger, 135,000 live right here in Western Massachusetts.

A Place at the Table, a new film exploring the issue of hunger in America and uncovering possible solutions, will be screened at Amherst Cinema on March 7th, 2013 at 7pm.

Following the screening,  The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts Executive Director Andrew Morehouse will lead a panel discussion with Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA), who is featured in the film, and UMass Professor Julie Caswell, who will discuss local and national hunger.

The presentation is a collaboration with The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, the leading provider of emergency food in Western Massachusetts that reaches individuals and families with lower incomes and an organization committed to working with our community to reduce hunger and increase food security.

Tickets for the March 7th special screening are available at www.amherstcinema.org  The film will open for a full run at Amherst Cinema on Friday, March 8th and will run through at least March 14th.

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.

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.

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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.

Food Security Resources for Families During Summer Months

Food Bank of Western MA Offers Food Resources for Families During Summer Months

Working with more than 350 member agencies that make up the emergency food network in our region, The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts provides food to 15,000 people every week. Thirty-one percent of households who seek emergency food from those agencies have at least one working adult, but still do not earn enough to make ends meet. Nearly half of the families say they must make tough choices between paying for food and paying for utilities, heating fuel, rent, mortgage or medical care, because they don’t have enough money to meet all these basic needs.

Nearly 20 percent of all kids under 18 in Western Massachusetts live in food insecure households, and don’t always have enough to eat. As school lets out for summer, we are reminded that the next three months will be even harder for these kids. Without school meals, grocery budgets are stretched to the brink, and many parents find it difficult to replace the two to even three free meals they receive five days a week during the school year.

Luckily, many of the agencies The Food Bank works worth address this increased need directly by providing summer grocery bag programs and daily meals to help fill in the gaps.

Here are several area resources to help children and their parents during the summer months in the four counties of Western MA:

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Youth Against Hunger Education

YAH! Curriculum
Youth Against Hunger Education

YAH CurriculumTake time this summer to learn about issues affecting your community as a family!  For starters, resources from the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts’ Youth Against Hunger (YAH!) curriculum can be used to help kids learn about how issues of hunger, homelessness, and/or poverty are present within and affect members of their own communities.

The curriculum, available on the food bank’s website, includes a wide variety of resources for parents and educators.  Their curriculum is divided into units, and includes activities, reading lists, recommended films, and discussion starters for kids of all ages (each resource is labeled with a suggested age).  Units include: “Why Eat? The Meaning of Food,” “Who’s Hungry? Food insecurity in the U.S.,” and “What Now?  Ways to Take Action.”

Try pairing some of their curriculum resources with an educational visit to the food bank, or a family commitment to volunteering at a local food bank (or other community resource, like Just Roots) throughout the summer.

The YAH! curriculum also includes a list of suggested service learning projects for families- by undertaking a project, families can learn about taking action and raising awareness of community issues, all while helping to make a difference to the lives of many right here in Western MA!

Related Post:

Food Bank Offers Resources for Teaching About Hunger

Youth Against Hunger (YAH!)
Curriculum for Teaching About Hunger

The YAH! curriculum is designed for students grades K-12. Activities help pave the way for service projects and discussion addressing hunger and inequity in the United States.

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts provides food and resources for people all over the region, and involvement with the organization is a great service learning opportunity for kids.  The Food Bank’s website includes a section for educators on ways to use involvement with the food bank to help kids learn about food insecurity and issues of inequality and socioeconomic status.

On their website is a curriculum, called Youth Against Hunger (YAH!), which can be used in classrooms or families supplementing their children’s education at home to raise awareness and knowledge of how hunger affects their community- it would be particularly effective in conjunction with a visit to the food bank and/or a classroom, family, or neighborhood food drive or fundraiser.

They have also put together a suggested reading list for children to further supplement hunger education.

For more information, visit www.foodbankwma.org.

Take Action: Child Nutrition Reauthorization Bill

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts writes:

Children can’t wait – we need to pass federal Child Nutrition legislation this year!

Congressional leadership is considering legislation called the Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill (H.R. 5504). This bill provides support for low-income children by improving their access to the nutritious food they need – whether in school, in out-of-school time programs, or in child care – and improving the nutritional quality of the meals they receive. Passage of a Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) bill this year will ensure significant movement towards the Obama Administration’s goals of ending child hunger by 2015 and dramatically reducing childhood obesity.

Help ensure our children get the nutrition they need!

TAKE ACTION: Lend your voice to a nationwide “Call-in to Congress and the White House” during the next two weeks before Congress adjourns for summer recess. Call toll-free, 1-866-277-7617, to connect to your Representative and Senators. You can also use this number to call the White House. Urge your Members of Congress and President Obama to pass a robust CNR bill before the end of the 111th Congress. Members of Congress need to press House and Senate leadership to make CNR a “must pass” priority for this year. (Thanks to Voices for America’s Children for use of their toll-free number).


About The Food Bank
The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts is the leading provider of emergency food that reaches individuals and families with lower incomes in Western Massachusetts. In addition, The Food Bank is working with the community to develop strategies that will reduce the number of people in the four counties of Western Mass. who must rely on emergency food. The Food Bank seeks to make nutritious and affordable food accessible to all residents in our region. The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts is located at 97 North Hatfield Road in Hatfield, MA. (413) 247-9738. www.foodbankwma.org

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