Center for Self-Reliance Food Pantry to move to Main Street in Greenfield

  • Center for Self-Reliance Food Pantry Coordinator Justin Costa says the pantry will move to 156 Main St. in Greenfield by early October. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • The Center for Self-Reliance Food Pantry, which has operated out of Federal Street School for the past several months, will move to 156 Main St. in Greenfield by early October. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 9/10/2020 4:06:53 PM
Modified: 9/10/2020 4:06:42 PM

GREENFIELD — The Center for Self-Reliance Food Pantry expects to move to the former World Eye Bookshop space on Main Street by early October, citing the need for more space and an even more accessible location.

Food Pantry Coordinator Justin Costa said the pantry, a program of the anti-poverty agency Community Action Pioneer Valley, moved from Osgood Street to Federal Street School after the pandemic hit so that it could serve people outside, allowing for social distancing and curbside pickup.

“We’re thankful to Superintendent Jordana Harper and Federal Street School Principal Nancy Putnam, as well as the custodial staff and food service staff who welcomed us and made this temporary home for our food pantry possible,” Community Action Pioneer Valley Executive Director Clare Higgins said of the food pantry’s time at the school. “None of us knew what the future held back in March, and they allowed us to be in their space. They have been great partners in helping us get food out to the people who needed it most when they needed it most.”

After more than five months of being housed at the school, Costa said it’s time to move and “let the school be a school again,” though students, teachers and staff members are beginning the year remotely. Plus, as fall arrives, temperatures will drop and weather will change, so it will be more difficult to serve people outside.

“We’re excited to share that we are eagerly awaiting the move into our new home at 156 Main St.,” he said. “However, good things come to those who wait, and we are hoping to be in and operating out of our new space come the beginning of October. We will share more news regarding the move shortly, including our expanded hours.”

The food pantry has transitioned its food distribution from a grocery store-like experience to pre-bagged groceries distributed using curbside pickup. In addition to meat, dairy and produce, the food pantry distributes diapers and formula to families with young children.

“We are excited about the opportunities the new space will provide the program,” Costa said. “It’s one step closer to us being able to operate as a ‘choice pantry’ again.”

Until the move is complete and the doors are open at the new space, the food pantry will return to its old location at 3 Osgood St. and distribute food from there. It will be open Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for curbside pickup.

The Center for Self-Reliance received a $30,000 Community Development Block Grant from the city this year to help fund the move. That was in addition to the $45,000 grant it receives each year through the program, so it received a total of $75,000. The $45,000 is being used to purchase food, for operating costs such as utilities, and to help pay its three staff members, including Costa, who pick up food and donations, package the food and distribute it.

“We’ve had wonderful support from the city throughout the block grant program,” Costa said. “It contributes to a huge piece of our funding.”

Additionally, the Center for Self-Reliance gets grants from other agencies, like Project Bread, United Way of Franklin County and the Charles Hall Foundation, Costa said, and it receives donations from individuals and local businesses. It has also run fundraisers in the past, but not this year during the pandemic.

“We also receive CDBG money from Buckland and Shelburne to run our pantry there,” Costa added.

The Center for Self-Reliance serves people in Greenfield and the western part of Franklin County, operating a satellite location out of Cowell Gymnasium at 51 Maple St. in Shelburne Falls from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the second, third and fourth Wednesday of each month.

For more information and for those who are unable to go to the food pantry in person and need to set up a delivery, call 413-773-5029.

Reach Anita Fritz at 413-772-9591 or afritz@recorder.com.

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