Franklin County Community Meals Program bids executive director farewell, welcomes new one

  • LEIBSON

  • The Franklin County Community Meals Program’s former Executive Director Andrea Leibson, who has left the role after more than four years, stands with Congressman Jim McGovern. STAFF FILE PHOTO

  • New Franklin County Community Meals Program Executive Director Rachel Berggren volunteers at one of the agency’s pantries during the pandemic. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 5/31/2020 12:15:03 PM

GREENFIELD — The Franklin County Community Meals Program has said goodbye to its executive director of more than four years, and is welcoming a new one on Monday.

Andrea Leibson said she gave the agency her notice more than six months ago, and has been working with and training Rachel Berggren, who is taking over leadership of the nonprofit, since the beginning of May.

“It has been a wonderful, difficult, rewarding and hard job,” said Leibson, a longtime Deerfield resident who started in the role of executive director in November 2015. “I’ve worked in nonprofit administration most of my career. I expect to do that again, and hopefully meaningful work in the food insecurity area, but right now I’m going to take some time for myself.”

Leibson said she took the agency as far as she could, and is ready to step down and let Berggren take over. She will help Berggren a little longer, saying it has been difficult to train her amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve sat for six hours some days on Zoom just going through the budget,” Leibson said. “It has been a real juggling act.”

Marian Boyd, president of the board at the Franklin County Community Meals Program, said the nonprofit did the typical search for a new executive director and hired Berggren on May 1.

“Everything, interviewing and all, happened before the pandemic hit this area, so we knew Rachel was who we wanted,” Boyd said. “She has been helping in our pantry and showing up at our meals to get a feel for things. We haven’t been working together because of the pandemic, so that has been difficult.”

The Franklin County Community Meals Program’s mission is to work with the community to alleviate hunger. It works with hundreds of community volunteers to operate three free community meal sites in Greenfield, Orange and Turners Falls, and was instrumental in the creation of the Greenfield Community College Pantry.

During her tenure at the agency founded in 1984, Leibson oversaw increases in support for the agency among local community groups and partners, donors, granters and foundations. She said she is most proud of her efforts in Orange, where the pantry received numerous grants to improve its operations and expanded its refrigeration and food storage capacity. She also brought new partners like Rachel’s Table, the town of Orange and Orange Armory Commission, the Franklin County Diaper Task Force, RSVP of the Pioneer Valley, the Farm School and more.

Additionally, the agency’s board of directors was expanded during her tenure and an advisory board was instituted. Boyd said Leibson did an “amazing job” in her time as executive director.

“I’m glad to have had the opportunity to work with many different constituencies while with FCCMP, from bankers to homeless people, politicians to dedicated staffers, veteran volunteers to young people volunteering for the first time,” Leibson said.

About Berggren

Berggren, a resident of North Amherst, has many years of experience working for nonprofits in roles focused on building partnerships and community resources. She has worked for Community Action Pioneer Valley Youth Programs, the Cape Cod Neighborhood Support Coalition and more.

While Berggren is new to Franklin County Community Meals Program, she is not new to the world of hunger, Boyd said. She has cultivated a career specializing in food access by working at farmers markets, conducting community needs assessments on the intersection of hunger and food surplus, leading nutrition education workshops, facilitating workshops on the intersection of hunger and racism, and assisting with program evaluation for food justice nonprofits in the Pioneer Valley.

Most recently, she held a position with UMass Dining in its sustainability department developing the Whole Harvest Project, a regional food security project working to connect farmers, institutions and campus food pantries. She holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and a master’s degree in sustainability science, specializing in sustainable food systems.

Berggren said she is excited for the opportunity to learn from and join a community dedicated to serving its vulnerable populations with the goal of ending hunger.

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


Please support the Greenfield Recorder's COVID-19 coverage

Thank you for your support of the Recorder.




Greenfield Recorder

14 Hope Street
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Phone: (413) 772-0261
Fax: (413) 772-2906

 

Copyright © 2019 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy