Greenfield bagged lunch collection, now with new name, returns Feb. 26


Staff Writer

Published: 02-08-2023 11:09 AM

GREENFIELD — Though it will operate under a new name, the Franklin County Community Meals Program’s annual bagged lunch collection will otherwise be the same event designed to provide supplemental meals to those in need.

The Bonus Bag Brigade — formally known as the Brown Bag Brigade — will be held Sunday, Feb. 26, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Second Congregational Church on Court Square. Organizers ask participants to shop, pack and deliver at least 10 bags that will serve as supplemental meals to patrons of the Franklin County Community Meals Program’s weekly meal site in Greenfield.

Executive Director Rachel Berggren said the change in name comes in acknowledgment of feedback the meals program received after last year’s event. Historically, the “brown bag” test was a racist and colorist practice of comparing a person’s skin color to the color of a brown paper lunch bag, particularly for entrance into events.

“We were really open to that feedback,” Berggren said. Changing the name “wasn’t a hard decision at all.”

Organizers quickly “shifted gears,” she said.

“We thought the word ‘bonus’ actually gave more meaning to the name. … It’s about providing surplus meals to people in need,” Berggren continued. “It was kind of a no-brainer. If we can make people feel like they belong, if we can dismantle systemic barriers to people accessing food — we’re all for that.”

She added that removing racist terms and encouraging inclusivity, respect and mindfulness was “an important piece of walking the walk.”

“We want all of our neighbors to know that they belong and that their needs matter,” she said.

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Berggren said the number of people the Bonus Bag Brigade helps continues to grow. Last year, roughly 1,000 bags were collected. This year, she said, the program hopes to increase that number by 25%.

Bagged lunches should consist of nonperishable foods that can be stored without refrigeration. The Franklin County Community Meals Program gives out 70 to 90 bagged lunches in addition to hundreds of hot meals at the weekly Greenfield meal site to ensure no one goes hungry on days when a community meal is unavailable.

“We’re collecting as much as the community is willing to give,” she said. “And the need has certainly increased.”

Reporter Mary Byrne can be reached at or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne.