Groups team up to fill Northampton food gap – GazetteNET

Posted: April 11, 2020 at 6:46 pm


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NORTHAMPTON Late last month,the Northampton Survival Center closed its buildingand suspended on-site operations as some staff members went into self-quarantine dueto COVID-19 concerns. Now, the center and a team of organizations have launcheda new effort to meet growing food insecurity.

On Monday, the Northampton Survival Center, Grow Food Northampton, and Community Action Pioneer Valley launched theCommunity Food Distribution Project.

Bags and boxes of food are available for pickup three days a week at Jackson Street School in Northampton and once a week at several other locations around the city.

In the first three days, about 280 householdscame to receive food, said Heidi Nortonsmith, executive director of the Northampton Survival Center.

In a more normal period of time, we might serve 250 or 260 in a whole week, she said.I definitely know that we are seeing a lot of new people, she continued,people who have not been in need before but are experiencingthe economic hardship of this time.

Food supplies includeshelf-stable goods and fresh produce from local farms an intentional choice.Many farmers have lost sources of income, including selling at markets andto restaurants, according to Alisa Klein, executive director of Grow Food Northampton, an organization that is in close contact withlocal farmers.

They are chomping at the bit wanting the farmers markets to resume, Klein said.

The program supports both those experiencing food insecurity and local food producers.

To me, thats the definitionof a really just and resilient food system, she said.And to create thekind of model in the heart of pandemic, in an emergency time, is a testament to what our communityis capable of.

Pickup is Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. The school acts as a distribution site for the projectbecause its size, unlike the Survival Centerbuilding,allows for proper social distancing, Nortonsmith said.

Food is also delivered to several sites Hampshire Heights, Florence Heights, Meadowbrook Apartments, and 236 Pleasant St. for pickup on Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.Nortonsmith and Klein plan on soon expanding the numberof sites. Groceries can be delivered to doorsteps atHampshire Heights, Florence Heights and Meadowbrook Apartments to those who fill out a form atcutt.ly/growfoodshares.

Anyone who needs food can access the program, Nortonsmith said.Theres no shame, theres no barrier. This is meant for people who are struggling, she said.

I just want people to know that this is happening, she said, so when you hear of a neighborsaying Ithink Im going to lose my job, or my smallbusiness is closing, or Im going to be furloughed for three months. Let them know, let them know, let them know.

Recently, the city gaveNorthampton Survival Center and Grow Food Northampton $25,000 in federal relief funds. A group of residentsalso contributed money to put towardproduce, Klein said.

The organizations arestill seeking additional funding, Klein said.This is anexpensive venture for all the organizations involved becausewe are buying this fresh, and in most cases organic, produce from local farmers.

This article has been updated.

Greta Jochem can be reached at gjochem@gazettenet.com.

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Groups team up to fill Northampton food gap - GazetteNET

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