71% of the people we serve live in poverty. Nearly half of them have had to choose between buying food and paying for utilities, rent, mortgage or medical care.
Like all food banks around the country, The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts serves as an intermediary between small, independent local food assistance sites and sources of wholesale food products, such as the federal and state government, food distribution companies, and supermarkets. The Food Bank’s approximately 300 member agency programs consist of meal sites, food pantries, homeless shelters, childcare centers, elder programs, and other food assistance programs throughout Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire counties. Our partner agencies receive a variety of food products from The Food Bank, which then they distribute to individuals and families experiencing or at risk of hunger.
As member agencies of The Food Bank, these programs also have access to resources, trainings, and other capacity building services. We provide agencies with information about food safety and cleanliness standards, as well as storage guidelines. The Food Bank’s Agency Relations department manages communication with all member agencies; trains agencies in Food Bank reporting procedures to meet USDA and Massachusetts requirements; and makes monitoring visits to each site at least once every two years, in compliance with Feeding America requirements. In conjunction with our Nutrition program, Agency Relations offers nutrition workshops, tips and suggestions for nutritious food choices, and signage in our warehouse to help agencies select healthy foods.
The Food Bank offers capacity building trainings in topics such as organizational development, fundraising, human resources, and technology, to support member agencies in serving their communities most effectively. We also provide opportunities for agencies to learn from each other and share best practices.