Rachel’s Table expands food rescue program in Hampshire County 

  • Lizzy Ghedi-Ehrlich, a volunteer with Rachel’s Table, unloads food donated by Cooley Dickinson Hospital with Lee Anderson, treasurer of the Manna Soup Kitchen, at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Lizzy Ghedi-Ehrlich, a volunteer with Rachel’s Table, unloads food donated by Cooley Dickinson Hospital with Lee Anderson, treasurer of the Manna Soup Kitchen, at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

For the Recorder
Published: 7/7/2021 3:45:27 PM

At the end of every day, hundreds of pounds of food are thrown away in restaurants, supermarkets and bakeries. One local organization is trying to change that, one delivery at a time.

After nearly 30 years, Rachel’s Table, a food rescue and redistribution program of the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts, is expanding its services to Hampshire County. The program also delivers to agencies in Franklin and Hampden counties.

The food comes from businesses that would have otherwise thrown it out.

“For restaurants, this would be food that is still in the kitchen. It’s still safe, still good, it just hasn’t left its container,” said Jodi Falk, executive director of Rachel’s Table, which is headquartered in Springfield.

For supermarkets, the food rescue program generally gets food that isn’t getting purchased, but “is still well within date, hasn’t been touched, is still wrapped in whatever it’s wrapped in,” said Falk, a resident of Greenfield.

Rachel’s Table has more than 50 agencies that receive food from donors through the program, and it’s looking for more. The organization now has seven drivers, three new food donors and two new agencies participating in Hampshire County.

The new agencies are the Amherst Survival Center and the Manna Soup Kitchen in Northampton, where people in need can pick up food.

The new food donors are Cooley Dickinson Hospital, Atkins Farms Country Market and several Pride gas stations.

“You may think convenience store food might not be so great. But, actually, Pride has their own kitchens, and they make their own food on the premises,” Falk said.

The program relies heavily on its 200 volunteers, who shuttle the food from one place to the next. It’s also looking for more volunteers in Hampshire County.

Rachel’s Table originally began its food redistribution program in Hampshire County when the pandemic began. At the time, the organization wanted to provide extra support to families who were put in difficult financial positions. As the pandemic began to subside, the need for food was still present in Hampshire County. During the pandemic, the agency delivered 70,000 to 140,000 pounds of food each month to more than 50 agencies in Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties.

“Hunger didn’t go away because we have vaccines now,” Falk said. “We’re here because, unfortunately, hunger is here. It’s all about the abundance on the one hand, and the need on the other, and making sure that abundance is shared.”

Rachel’s Table had already done some other work in Hampshire County, even before the pandemic began. It has a Gleaning Project, where volunteers collect extra produce from farms, most of them in Hampshire County, and then deliver the produce to its agencies.

Rachel’s Table also has an initiative called the Growing Gardens program, which aims to teach communities how to grow their own food. The project is in its early stages, but Falk has begun to help some of the agencies set up gardens to help feed constituents.

The Growing Gardens program started in April when the organization donated 640 starter plants to seven agencies. For two of the agencies, Rachel’s Table’s Teen Board helped plant.

“All of it is about how to sustain the livelihood of growing your own food,” Falk said.

In addition to helping alleviate hunger, the agency’s work also has an environmental component.

“Food in landfills is one of the most toxic forms of waste, in terms of the gasses that get omitted,” Falk said. “It was kind of an early conservation effort, too.”


Jobs



Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Greenfield Recorder, keeping Franklin County informed since 1792.


Greenfield Recorder

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

 

Copyright © 2021 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy