A helping hand for the hungry: Over 100 residents turn out, donate food for those in need

Recorder Staff
Last modified: 2/23/2016 8:28:39 AM
GREENFIELD — Volunteers are working to make sure no one goes hungry in Greenfield.

Brown bags lined the hallways of the Second Congregational Church on Sunday afternoon, where more than 100 residents showed up to donate nonperishable food for the hungry and homeless.

These efforts are thanks to a new initiative by the Franklin County Community Meals Program, a nonprofit organization that works in partnership with the community to alleviate hunger.

The bags were filled with soups, granola bars, and other canned goods, to help feed those who attend Wednesday night community meals for those in need.

“There are a lot of people in need so every little bit helps,” said Marian Boyd, who is on the board of directors of the community meals program. She said typically 60 to 80 people show up to the community meals on Wednesday night at the Second Congregational Church. Last year the organization provided 24,000 meals to the community.

Volunteers try to facilitate a warm, inviting atmosphere, where those in need can eat together around a table. The community meals are often sponsored by local organizations, schools and clubs. They serve anything from turkey and ham holiday dinners to pizzas. In the summertime there are typically cold meals, like sandwiches and chips.

“It really shows what a wonderful community we live in,” said Boyd. She said that those in need of a hot meal are welcome to stop by any of the area pantries or to visit the free community meals at the Second Congregational Church.

“It’s like watching a miracle,” said Amy Battisti, who is on the board of directors of the community meals program. Volunteers continued to show up throughout the day on Sunday, dropping off boxes of brown bags. Children and families came to give donations.

Parents used the moment as an opportunity to teach their children about the hard realities of hunger. “My husband and I have put a lot of thought into how we can teach them about helping the community,” said Meredith Southergill of South Deerfield, who brought her 4-year-old daughter Ainsley to drop off brown bags stuffed with applesauce and Twix bars.

Franklin County Community Meals Program also sets up food pantries at Greenfield Community College for students and staff members and another pantry in Orange at Bethany Lutheran Church.

Hunger is not a new issue in the region. Last year, The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts distributed about 10 million pounds of food to more than 200 frontline food providers and people in need.

The brown bag food drive on Sunday was a great success, said Franklin County Community Meals Program organizer Emily Whitney. Her 9-year-old son, Sam helped accept donations and decorate the brown bags at the church on Sunday. More and more donations flowed in throughout the day.

“It really took off. We live in a great community,” said Whitney.

For more information about the Franklin County Community Meals Program, visit fccmp.com. Those who have questions about donations can call 413-522-0882.

You can reach Lisa Spear at
lspear@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 280


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