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. Invite your friends.
- 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.
- When? Anytime! Contact Tracy Finnegan to schedule a time to bake for others. Baking kits available to use anytime at CLiA!
Berkshire Food Project (BFP), North Adams
- Serving lunch daily from noon – 1:00pm. Volunteers 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, Valerie Schwartz (413-664-7378) CLiA Assistant Director, Tracy Finnegan for more information.
- We are are scheduling a van to take students to BFP during the Academic Year. If you are interested in volunteering then, please fill out this survey. You will have to log in to a Williams email account to complete the survey.
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 1:00-2:00pm.
- Drivers needed to deliver groceries and drive “friends” (clients) home. Shifts every Wednesday from 10:00am-noon, 1:00-3:00pm, 4:00-6:00pm. Contact Tracy Finnegan for more information.
- 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, 4:00-6:00pm.
Future Volunteer Opportunities
Monthly Cooking Class @ 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.
- 2nd Wednesday of every month Learn more from Tracy Finnegan.
Empty Bowl @ Berkshire Food Project
More details to follow…
- There is a story about a man who left this earth and was taken on a tour of the inner realms. He was shown a room where he saw a large group of hungry people trying to eat dinner, but because their spoons were longer than their arms, they were frustrated. “This,” his guide told him, “is hell.” “That’s terrible,” the man exclaimed. “Please show me heaven.” “Very well,” agreed the guide, and off they went. When they opened the door to heaven, the man was perplexed to see what looked like same scene: there was a group of people with spoons longer than their arms. But as he looked more closely, he saw happy faces and well-fed bodies, for there was one important difference: the people in heaven had learned to feed each other.
- We are working very hard to help alleviate hunger in our community. Once again, we hope you will consider being a part of this huge biennial fundraising event. Each person that attends will purchase a hand-crafted bowl donated by local potters. You will then be able to feast on as many soups as you like, all donated by local chefs and friends of the BFP. The bowl is yours to take home as a constant reminder that not everyone’s bowl is always full. We hope you will support our efforts and reserve this date on you calendar.
- Tickets go on sale the beginning of March 2018. We will also be looking for volunteers to help with this event. For more information please call BFP Director, Valerie Schwartz (413-664-7378) or 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