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In The Bank

Posted on Friday, February 7th, 2014
State Senator James Welch joined representatives from our Hampden County member agencies to discuss effective advocacy opportunities during one of The Food Bank’s recent advocacy training workshops.

State Senator James Welch joined representatives from our Hampden County member agencies to discuss effective advocacy opportunities during one of The Food Bank’s recent advocacy training workshops.

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts is proud to announce that, in January, we were inducted into the Feeding America Advocacy Hall of Fame. We are part of an elite group as only one of twelve food banks in the nation to be included. As a new member of the Hall of Fame, we will have our name engraved on a plaque to be featured at Feeding America’s Washington, DC office.

Feeding America is a national hunger relief agency, which works to feed our country’s food insecure individuals through its network of member food banks. In addition to distributing food and grocery products through its member agencies to where they are needed most, they also aim to engage the country in the fight to end hunger. They make it their priority to bring issues of hunger to the forefront and engage and empower the public to work towards developing a solution.

To be considered for the Feeding America Advocacy Hall of Fame, The Food Bank had to meet a variety of criteria and complete several advocacy projects throughout the year. It was necessary to demonstrate leadership through contacting members of congress, engaging the local media on policy issues and educate & mobilize local organizations about policy issues. We exceeded many of the criteria, by accomplishing such goals as:

  • • Participated in the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) conference and meet with our representatives’ and senators’ staff, urging them to protect SNAP in budget and Farm Bill discussions and demonstrating which challenges are the highest priority for their constituents;
  • • Submitting a number of Op-Ed letters to local media regarding Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program/American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (SNAP/ARRA) cuts and the importance of protecting hunger relief programs;
  • • Conducting advocacy trainings for our member agencies throughout Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire Counties;
  • • Continually contacting state senators and their staff, urging them for increased Massachusetts Emergency Food Assistance Program (MEFAP) funding for the 2014 fiscal year, in order to meet the increasing demands for emergency food for food insecure residents of our community;
  • • Submitting written testimony to the Joint Committee on Children and Families hearing on proposed EBT photo requirements;
  • • Organizing and hosting three Western Massachusetts SNAP coalition meetings that included member agencies (such as food panties and emergency meal sites), representatives from the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA), legislative staff and other community partners, which provided information about federal and state legislation, policy proposals and changes that affect the SNAP program. The meetings provided a forum in which to share information and discuss action steps to influence state and federal policy.

Looking ahead, The Food Bank plans to continue leading the community in advocating for hunger relief in Western Massachusetts. We recently completed a series of advocacy training workshops throughout the month of January for our partner agencies in the emergency food network. These were designed to provide resources and tools for agencies to engage their clients and help empower them to effectively communicate with legislators and their staff concerning issues surrounding hunger. Attending the workshops were a number of legislators (and/or their staff) representing the four counties of Western Massachusetts, including Sen. Benjamin Downing, Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, Rep. Paul Mark, Rep. Peter Kocot, and Sen. James Welch. They discussed the importance of constituents advocating on their own behalf and the role that feedback from voters in their district plays in their work.

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Winter Storm Update

On November 26th, The Food Bank will be closed for all business starting at 1 pm due to the weather. Business will resume as usual on Monday, December 1st. Have a wonderful holiday!