Pandemic response & the case for new Food Bank headquarters
During the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted food insecurity in the region. The Food Bank, in partnership with the Western Massachusetts frontline emergency food network and with community support, has continued to serve more than 100,000 individuals each year who have been struggling to put nutritious meals on their tables.
Learn more about The Food Bank’s impact during the pandemic and plans for the construction of a larger, greener food distribution center and headquarters, which will allow us to increase our response to food insecurity for decades to come.
- In the first year of the pandemic before most federal benefits kicked in, The Food Bank and the frontline emergency food network partners responded immediately to skyrocketing food insecurity. The network distributed 31% more healthy food than the year prior to the pandemic for a record high of the equivalent of 13.3 million meals. The network experienced an 20% increase in the number of individuals seeking food assistance to an average of 113,000 visitors every month.
- It is expected that demand for food assistance will show increases when data are available for January – March 2022. The expiration of the child tax credit last December has had one of the biggest adverse impacts on households that received it. Food pantries are anecdotally reporting an increase in the number of visitors since it expired, including many new visitors. Barring legislative action, universal free school meals will end next school year in September. This will hurt more children who rely on them every day because there isn’t enough food at home. Increased SNAP benefits in response to the pandemic are expected to end on September 30. Coupled with rising inflation of food, gasoline and other prices, people are really being hit from all sides right now.
- Exacerbated by the pandemic, the lack of storage space at The Food Bank’s warehouse in Hatfield has forced it to turn away more than one million pounds of food donations over the last three and a half years. Other infrastructure inefficiencies at its current facility, like insufficient loading docks, and supply chain issues are constraining The Food Bank’s response now and will certainly persist in the future.
- Foreseeing this many years ago, The Food Bank purchased vacant property in December 2020 at the Chicopee River Business Park to build its future, larger, and greener food distribution center and headquarters. Its new facility, which will be twice the size of its current facility, will enable The Food Bank to provide more food assistance to more people for decades to come. The Food Bank will break ground on its new home this May, complete construction next spring, and move in over the summer of 2023.
- The Food Bank launched a $26.3 million capital campaign in January 2021. To date, it has raised 96 percent of its goal – with $1.15 million more to raise. Funding commitments include federal and state grants (25%), individual gifts (22%), federal New Market Tax Credit investment (22%), and corporate gifts (18%). Find more information on The Food Bank’s building project and capital campaign page.
Learn more about The Food Bank’s planned construction and move to a new headquarters.