Support from local businesses keeps meals program’s refrigerated van running

  • The Franklin County Community Meals Program purchased a refrigerated van earlier this year with the help of a state grant. However, with rising operating costs, the nonprofit had to turn to the business community for support in covering operating expenses including fuel, insurance and general maintenance. Contributed photo

  • Melanie Highlander, program associate at the Franklin County Community Meals Program, and volunteer Anna Wardwell unload food containers from the hunger relief nonprofit’s new, refrigerated delivery van. Contributed photo

Staff Writer
Published: 12/21/2021 3:27:25 PM
Modified: 12/21/2021 3:27:10 PM

GREENFIELD — While it may have been a state grant that allowed the Franklin County Community Meals Program to buy its first refrigerated van for transporting food, its the support of local businesses that allows the nonprofit to keep it on the road.

Earlier this year, the Greenfield-based organization was awarded a reimbursable grant through the Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs to purchase a $60,000 refrigerated vehicle for transporting food across the county, according to Executive Director Rachel Berggren. However, with rising operating costs, the nonprofit had to turn to the business community for support in covering operating expenses including fuel, insurance and general maintenance.

“We wouldn’t be able to do this without those sponsors stepping up,” said Berggren. “But when we took that leap of faith to purchase the van, we knew our community would rally to support us because of how strong of a community we have.”

Without sponsors, Berggren said, the nonprofit would have to raise the money on its own to cover these costs, either through its annual fundraisers or grant writing.

“This is an example of how we know that we can rely on the community,” she said.

Berggren said the van allows the organization to have more oversight over its processes.

“Previously, we were relying on volunteer vehicles,” she said. “Sometimes, what that means is it limits the amount of food we’re able to transport, and the freshness food can be maintained at.”

It also allows the Franklin County Community Meals Program to better address the needs of the community.

“It allows us to do things like develop delivery models in the rural areas that we serve and transport food to people’s homes,” she said. “It allows us to bring more food to people across the county.”

According to a Franklin County Community Meals Program press release, seven local businesses — Greenfield Savings Bank, Alber Hearing Services, Ramon Financial Services, Covestro, Snow & Sons Landscaping, First United Methodist Church of Greenfield and Pete’s Tire Barn — are sponsoring the van to help offset the operating costs.

“We’ve been involved for a number of years,” said Ed Snow, owner of Snow & Sons Landscaping. “Once per month, we … pick up a load of food and deliver it to whatever food banks they need it at.”

Snow said the meals program is a “great cause” and his company will continue to assist in deliveries as needed.

Bob Walker, head of external communications for the manufacturing company Covestro, said the sponsorship is not only a financial commitment, but a “manpower commitment.” Like Snow, Covestro employees have volunteered making deliveries.

“The company and the employees are committed to helping out the local community,” Walker said. “And we felt that the food bank initiative and sponsoring this van … was a great way to show our support for both the community and the community members who have a need.”

The meals program operates four free community meal sites: on Mondays from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at Our Lady of Peace Church, 90 Seventh St. in Turners Falls; on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 4:45 to 5:45 p.m. at the Second Congregational Church, 116 Court Square in Greenfield; on Thursdays from 5 to 5:30 p.m. at the United Methodist Church, 104 South Main St. in Orange; and on the fourth Thursday of each month from 5 to 6 p.m. at the Trinitarian Congregational Church, 147 Main St. in Northfield (although the December date was held earlier due to the holidays).

The Franklin County Community Meals Program is in the midst of its year-end fundraising campaign to raise money for the ongoing needs of the organization, Berggren added. The $50,000 goal, nearly $17,000 of which has been raised, will ensure that the program can continue to provide food to people in need across Franklin County and the North Quabbin. Donations can be made online at

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


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