Local food pantry receives additional $30K from city

  • Community Action Pioneer Valley employee Tatyana Pirozhkov bags fruits and vegetables to be distributed at the Center For Self Reliance Food Pantry at the Federal Street School in Greenfield on Tuesday. Staff Photos/PAUL FRANZ

  • Justin Costa, program coordinator at Community Action Pioneer Valley, talks with people using the Center For Self Reliance Food Pantry being run out of the Federal Street School in Greenfield on Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Coordinator Justin Costa and volunteer Penny Davis load up a car with food and other necessities at the Center For Self Reliance Food Pantry being run out of the Federal Street School in Greenfield on Tuesday.

  • Volunteer Penny Davis gets an order of food ready at the Center For Self Reliance Food Pantry being run out of the Federal Street School in Greenfield on Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 8/4/2020 4:00:50 PM

GREENFIELD — The Center for Self-Reliance Food Pantry will receive an additional $30,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) from the city this year because Greenfield is not filling a position at its Senior Center. 

The local food pantry, which moved from Osgood Street to the Federal Street Elementary School after the pandemic hit earlier this year, typically receives $45,000 from the city through its CDBG program. This year, $25,000 will come from that position not being filled, and the city is planning to secure another $5,000 so that the food pantry will receive a total of $75,000, according to Greenfield Community Development Administrator Lindsay Rowe. 

“We’re incredibly grateful to the city,” Center for Self-Reliance Food Pantry Coordinator Justin Costa said. “We’ve had wonderful support from the city throughout the block grant program. It contributes to a huge piece of our funding.”

Costa said the funding will allow the food pantry’s operations to continue. The Center for Self-Reliance, part of Community Action Pioneer Valley, serves people in the Greenfield area, as well as West County.

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

The agency receives most of its funding through large grants, like the block grant, and grants from other agencies, including Project Bread, the United Way and the Charles Hall Foundation, he said, and it receives donations from individuals and local businesses. It has also run fundraisers.

“This was timely for us,” he said. “We had applied for some grants, but they were disrupted because of the pandemic, so this will help a lot.”

Greenfield Council on Aging Director Hope McCary announced in June that she would not fill the Senior Center’s volunteer coordinator position — the person who was in the position resigned in February — which was funded by a $25,000 grant. McCary is not available for comment this week.

MJ Adams, the city’s community and economic development director, said when McCary’s letter was received, saying she wouldn’t need the $25,000 — the Senior Center has been closed since March, when the pandemic hit the area — the city started talking with social service agencies to see if they might be able to use it.

“We wanted to see if they needed any supplemental help,” Adams said. “The ones we talked with said they didn’t need anything, except the food pantry, which requested an additional $30,000.”

Costa said the money will be used to purchase food, for operating costs such as utilities, and to help pay its three staff members, including himself, who pick up food and donations, package the food and distribute it each week. 

Currently, the Center for Self-Reliance Food Pantry operates on the front lawn of Federal Street Elementary School in Greenfield and Cowell Gymnasium at 51 Maple St. in Shelburne Falls.

The Greenfield food pantry is open Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 11 to 4 p.m. Costa said he and his staff use the local school’s cafeteria to prepare bags, and then they distribute them on the front lawn.

In Shelburne Falls, the food pantry is open from 11 to 4 p.m. on the second, third and fourth Wednesdays of the month.

Rowe said the city applied for the 2020 round of the CDBG program and should hear within the next month or so, and the city will begin giving out grants later this year. Greenfield received $875,000 in CDBG funds in 2019.

For more information, visit bit.ly/2EK3jt7.

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

 




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