Quabbin Harvest holding flash-frozen food drive in Orange

  • Store Manager Julie Davis holds packets of freshly frozen local fruit and vegetables at Quabbin Harvest Food Co-op in Orange. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Quabbin Harvest Food Co-op at 12 North Main St. in Orange. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 12/19/2021 3:00:20 PM
Modified: 12/19/2021 3:00:05 PM

ORANGE — The Quabbin Harvest Food Co-op is holding a flash-frozen food drive until just before Christmas to assist the Orange Food Pantry and highlight resilient local and regional supply chains.

Store Manager Julie Davis explained shoppers can visit 12 North Main St. and buy bags of frozen vegetables from Valley Veggies, a program of the Western Massachusetts Food Processing Center in Greenfield. The donated produce will be taken to the Franklin County Community Meals Program, which operates the Orange Food Pantry, on Dec. 23 and the co-op will match the first hundred bags donated. Davis said the food drive launched Tuesday, Dec. 14, and at least 65 items had been donated by 11 a.m. on Thursday.

“We’ve had a lot of really positive responses from folks about wanting to donate, and people are buying more than one — they’re buying multiple each time,” she said. “So it’s been really great.”

Units available for donation are bell peppers for $4.99, blueberries for $4.59, broccoli florets for $5.99, butternut squash for $4.99, carrots for $2.09 and potatoes for $5.49.

Davis said the food drive also shines a light on the brevity of the co-op’s supply chain. Marty’s Local food distribution company in South Deerfield delivers food from farms to the co-op.

The idea for a flash-frozen food drive came out of a weekly management team meeting at Quabbin Harvest.

“We’re known for our produce,” Davis said. “So, we were thinking about trying to donate something, but obviously it’s December in New England, so local is at a little bit of a premium. (The drive will) allow the food pantry some flexibility to give (the food) out over a little bit of a longer course of time, but we’ll still be able to get it there for Christmas.”

Rachel Berggren, executive director of the Franklin County Community Meals Program, said partnerships with businesses like Quabbin Harvest help get more fresh, nutritious food into the mouths of more local residents in need.

“The more food we can get from more sources, the better,” Berggren said. “They’re a great business for us to work closely with.”

Quabbin Harvest is a member-owned food co-op that is open to all shoppers. In 2021, it distributed more than 2,600 shares of fresh produce through programs that bring low- or no-cost foods to low-income residents. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients can enroll in the Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) and receive full reimbursement for boxes of fresh fruits or vegetables every two weeks throughout the winter. Davis said a recent calculation determined 72 cents of every dollar spent at the co-op stays in the community.

“We’re nourishing our neighbors and we’re supporting our farmers so that our farmers can be here for us going forward,” she said.

Additional details are available in the store or online at quabbinharvest.coop. The Orange Food Pantry is open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursdays at 118 East Main St.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or
413-772-0261, ext. 262.


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