Brown Bag Brigade meals collection set for Feb. 27 in Greenfield 

  • Franklin County Community Meals Program volunteers pose with some of the bags of nonperishable food that were collected in 2020 as part of the Brown Bag Brigade. This year, bags can be dropped off for donation on Sunday, Feb. 27, between 4 and 6 p.m. at the Second Congregational Church in Greenfield. FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 2/9/2022 4:50:03 PM

GREENFIELD — The Franklin County Community Meals Program is once again calling on residents to assemble bagged lunches for distribution in the community as part of its Brown Bag Brigade collection.

“With numbers rising with food insecurity, our goal is to get as many people involved as possible, because it really takes a community to feed the community,” said Rachel Berggren, executive director of the Franklin County Community Meals Program.

The nonprofit is asking individuals and families to shop for, pack and deliver at least 10 bags, according to a meals program press release. Once filled and decorated, these bags can be dropped off for donation on Sunday, Feb. 27, between 4 and 6 p.m. at the Second Congregational Church, located at 16 Court Square. All items in the bags should be nonperishable.

The Brown Bag Brigade has been going on since 2016, during a particularly difficult budget year, when Emily Whitney, a volunteer for the Franklin County Community Meals Program, reached out to her Facebook friends, hoping they could contribute to a goal of collecting 400 bags with nonperishable food.

“I used to volunteer to shop weekly for food and put together 60 to 80 bag lunches to be distributed at the Wednesday evening meal,” Whitney wrote in an email. “I had thought that maybe I could reach out to friends on Facebook, asking them to make and donate 10 bagged lunches.”

Whitney said the response in 2016 was amazing, and the event has taken off from there. Berggren echoed the same sentiment.

“It’s definitely grown to be that the community agencies have built it into what they do every year,” Berggren said. “The YMCA, for example, helps us, and we work with different schools.”

She noted the timing of the event coincides with most schools’ February vacations, giving families a way to engage their children in the activity.

Over the last few years, the event has resulted in the donation of between 1,000 and 1,500 bagged lunches each year, according to Berggren. In addition to distributing the lunches at the Franklin County Community Meals Program’s weekly meal sites, the bags are stored at the Second Congregational Church for people in need who stop by.

“In the pandemic, when all of our facilities had to shut down and we had to figure out our operations, these brown bags were a lifesaver,” she recalled. “They’re used as a flexible backup, because it’s a nonperishable lunch.”

Berggren said the annual event is a “really important” part of the nonprofit’s effort to fight food insecurity.

“The people who come to our meal sites, especially in Greenfield, are unhoused people who don’t always know where their next meal is coming from,” she said.

Community meal sites

The Franklin County Community Meals Program operates the following meal sites:

■Mondays, 4 to 6 p.m. — Our Lady of Peace Church, 90 Seventh St. in Turners Falls

■Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 4:45 to 5:45 p.m. — Second Congregational Church, 116 Court Square in Greenfield

■Thursdays, 5 to 5:30 p.m. — Orange United Methodist Church, 104 South Main St. in Orange

■Fourth Thursday of the month, 5 to 6 p.m. — Trinitarian Congregational Church, 147 Main St. in Northfield

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


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