Ways to Address Food Insecurity in our Area:
According to the Western Massachusetts Food Bank, over 15,000 people in Berkshire County seek food assistance every month. A 2015 USDA study estimated more than 42 million people live in food-insecure households. Though there is no magic bullet or simple solution at the national, state, or local level, there is much that can be done to help alleviate the problem through existing programs, refinements, and new initiatives.
We recommend you begin by engaging in frontline work either here in the Berkshires or somewhere else of interest to you, whether as a volunteer, through paid work-study, or as fieldwork for a course. You’ll then be in a good position to conduct your own research or field project for which you can secure funding either through CLiA or the Office of Fellowships.
Ongoing Volunteer Opportunities
In addition to the student-run WRAPS (Williams Recovery of All Perishable Surplus) food recovery volunteer work, here are other ways to address food insecurity as a volunteer:
We’re on a roll! CLiA Bake Out
- Bake homemade bread or rolls for St. John’s Sunday Take & Eat and other meal programs in the region. Invite your friends. CLiA provides equipment and ingredients with enough for all who are participating to taste-test the results!
- Bake something sweet for shut-ins. Come in from the cold or take a study break and bake a batch of cookies for the elderly and lonely. Again, CLIA provides the equipment and the ingredients with enough for taste-testing.
- When? Anytime! Contact Tracy Finnegan to schedule a time to bake for others. Baking kits are available to borrow anytime at CLiA! Advance notice is needed if you need us to pick up the ingredients.
Berkshire Food Project (BFP), North Adams
- Serving lunch daily from noon – 1:00pm. Volunteers are needed daily, anytime between 11:00am – 2:00pm to help prep food, serve meals, sit and talk with clients or help with clean-up. Contact BFP Director (413-664-7378) or CLiA Assistant Director, Tracy Finnegan for more information.
Williamstown Food Pantry @ St. Patrick’s Catholic Church
- Help carry groceries for the elderly.
- Conveniently located in parking lot in back of Sawyer Library
- Every 1st and 3rd Wednesday of the month, 1:00-3:00pm
- Drop in to help or contact Tracy Finnegan for more information.
Interfaith Friendship Food Pantry, North Adams
- Help unload a delivery truck full of donated food from the Western Mass Food Bank. Every Tuesday between 12:00-1:30pm.
- Drivers needed to deliver groceries and drive “friends” (clients) home. Shifts every Wednesday from 10:00am-noon, 12:00-2:00pm, 3:30-5:30pm. Contact Tracy Finnegan for more information.
- Food baggers needed during the 3:30-5:30pm shift
- While “friends” of the Friendship Pantry wait in line, greeters/volunteers are needed to welcome clients, sign them and help them fill out required forms. Every Wednesday, 3:30-5:30pm.
Additional Volunteer Opportunities
Cooking Classes @ North Adams Community Center, UNO
- Are you interested in food, talented in cooking or nutrition? Consider teaching a class for women, single mothers, and people who want to learn more about cooking healthy meals for themselves and their families.
- If you don’t have a recipe, consider using a recipe from Good and Cheap, a free downloadable cookbook for low-income and food stamps recipients; four dollars a day, which is the SNAP daily allowance. For example: Broccoli and Cheddar Empanadas. Learn more from Tracy Finnegan.
- Learn more about food insecurity and poverty through a relevant course or campus or community event sponsored by the Williams Poverty Initiative.
- Receive funding for summer research or a special project on food insecurity through the Sentinels Summer Research Fellowship Program (application deadline: April 10th) or one of the many fellowships available through the Office of Fellowships. For more information, contact Paula Consolini at [email protected].
Relevant Resources & Reading Material
- $2.00 A Day: Living On Almost Nothing in America by Kathryn Edin & H. Luke Shaefer
- Huffington Post Review of $2.00 A Day
- Good and Cheap by Leanne Brown
- NPR Story about Good and Cheap
- DC Central Kitchen
- List of Berkshire County Food Pantries and Free Meal Sites