Important Information about COVID-19 and The Food Bank

Updated: 3/24/2020

During the COVID-19 crisis, some member agencies of The Food Bank have adjusted their hours or have decided to close. Please refer to this updated schedule and map to find free meals or a food pantry near you. This schedule is updated frequently, so please check back regularly.

Updated Schedule

Updated: 3/18/2020

Here’s what The Food Bank is doing to address the coronavirus on the ground.

The Food Bank will resume operations of our Mobile Food Bank beginning Monday, March 23, 2020.

The one week, temporary suspension of the Mobile Food Bank is allowing our Mobile Food Bank partners to increase food distribution safety in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Infection (CDC) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (Mass. DPH) COVID-19 guidelines. We look forward to very soon resuming this vital emergency food delivery to individuals and families facing hunger.

Our Brown Bag: Food for Elders program continues operation with major modifications

To ensure the safety of Brown Bag elders and volunteers, as well as our staff, The Food Bank has begun distributing grocery bags outdoors. In many cases, we will stage drive-up distributions that will keep Brown Bag members from needing to leave their vehicles to receive monthly, pre-bagged shelf-stable groceries. Food Bank staff and volunteers are being redeployed to pre-pack Brown Bags at The Food Bank instead of onsite.

Member agency meal sites and food pantries continue to operate

Aside from a few meal site and food pantry closures, our member agencies continue to operate. Many have changed their distribution methods to keep visitors safe. Most meal programs are now making meals to go, which patrons can pick up and take with them. Many pantries are also distributing food outdoors to help reduce risk of the coronavirus spreading to staff and guests.

We are ordering a truckload of pre-boxed meal kits for emergency distribution

We anticipate it will take approximately three weeks for them to arrive for distribution to the most affected communities.

SNAP Outreach & Enrollment continues to take place by phone only

The Food Bank has cancelled all in-person SNAP Outreach & Enrollment events. However, our SNAP Team can handle all application assistance by phone. Please call 413-247-9738, then press 2 for the Programs’ directory.

We are working with partners across the Commonwealth and nationally to advocate for food assistance

We are advocating for funding from the Governor’s supplemental Coronavirus Aid Package and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP).  Partners include The Greater Boston Food Bank, Worcester County Food Bank, The Merrimack Valley Food Bank, the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, Feeding America, Massachusetts Dept. of Early and Secondary Education, and state and federal legislators.

We are seeking community support by way of monetary donations.

Every $1 donated provides four meals. Food insecure households are at far greater risk of hunger during this increased time of need. Please support struggling seniors, children, people with disabilities, including veterans, and working families.

Once COVID-19 community needs have been met, remaining funds and food will be used to support our ongoing hunger-relief efforts.


Updated:3/17/2020
We are all very concerned about the outbreak of COVID-19. The Food Bank is monitoring the situation closely and following the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and Feeding America. We will continue to communicate our response to this public health crisis as the situation progresses.  Please refer regularly to this website page for updates that will be made at least weekly.

Food Bank Distribution

The Food Bank is suspending temporarily our Mobile Food Bank, effective immediately, until we can ensure public safety. We are preparing protocols for all Mobile Food Bank site partners to distribute food as safely as possible. Our commitment to feeding our neighbors remains strong. We will communicate shortly the resumption of our Mobile Food Banks.

  • We are developing contingency plans for worse-case scenarios while addressing the immediate need for food assistance.
  • We are seeking state and federal emergency food assistance with partnering food banks in the Commonwealth.
  • We are in communication with private food donors and other potential resources to secure emergency food and related support.
  • Disaster preparedness is part of The Food Bank’s ongoing operations; measures are being taken to ensure continuity of operations.
  • Our top priority is to   prevent the transmission of COVID-19, provide food assistance, and minimize larger societal disruption.

Volunteers

  • During this public health crisis, volunteers will be accepted by invitation only. We appreciate community support and need to ensure the safety of our employees to carry out our mission.
  • During this crisis, if you would like to support The Food Bank and individuals facing hunger, please consider making a generous financial contribution so that we may purchase emergency food. Every dollar donated can provide the equivalent of four meals.

More on Supporting our Neighbors

  • The Food Bank will continue to distribute food in all four counties of western Massachusetts.
  • To avoid service contamination, The Food Bank is adopting infection control practices following CDC guidelines.
  • We are offering guidance on best practices to our member agencies (local food pantries and meal sites) as this public health crisis unfolds.
  • We continue to encourage individuals and households facing hunger to refer to this updated list on our website of member agencies that are currently providing food assistance. As independent organizations, these food pantries and meal sites are making their own decisions about whether to continue or cancel services during the public health crisis. Please check this list regularly and call them directly prior to visiting to check for hours of operation.

Important information about COVID -19

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC), the coronavirus is transmitted through close personal contact, not food. We will take every possible measure to ensure that we distribute food safely.

As we are sure that you are aware, a collective effort is necessary to help alleviate the effects of the coronavirus here in our community. We thank you for supporting your neighbors in need and our mission to feed our neighbors and lead the community to end hunger.