Food Banking on Sundays

By: Andrew Morehouse, Executive Director

The Food Bank of Western Mass

The Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst

As the Executive Director of The Food Bank, one of the things I enjoy most about my job is that no two days are exactly alike. If I’m not thanking donors, greeting volunteers, or planning a meeting with staff, then I’m visiting a community partner. Most recently, I’ve had the privilege to speak at a number of faith-based organizations that support The Food Bank’s mission.

In the past month alone, I was invited to two church services to speak with the congregation about the issue of hunger and food insecurity in our region, as well as The Food Bank’s response to it. The first was the Unitarian Universalist Society in Amherst, which hosts a weekly community breakfast in collaboration with Craig’s Door (a local shelter) in addition to supporting many other local organizations that feed and shelter the most vulnerable population in Amherst. The other was St. Paul Lutheran Church in East Longmeadow. They have a small food pantry on-site and are currently engaged in a community needs assessment to determine what else the congregation should do to live its faith.

In speaking with the congregations, I shared stories about my experiences, and about the individuals I have met whose lives have been impacted through our work. It is clear to me that The Food Bank shares many of the same values as the congregations I visit. The basic principles of compassion, love for others, and the desire to help those in need have served as the foundation of our work in the community. Acting upon these values will be instrumental in facilitating change and creating a Western Massachusetts where no one goes hungry.

Together, we can take action and help our neighbors in need. I urged everyone to contact their legislators to ask that they support an increase in the Massachusetts Emergency Food Assistance Program (MEFAP) funding, and to write a letter to Governor Baker to request that he stop the new faulty SNAP application process.

On the day that I visited The Unitarian Universalist Society in Amherst, their parishioners collected $1,200 and donated it to The Food Bank. In addition, St. Paul Lutheran Church recently sent us a gift of $2,500 with a personal note stating: “to support the mission and ministry of The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.”

We are so grateful to them for their faith in us to carry out our mission. Through their efforts, and those like them, we can continue to feed our neighbors in need and lead the community to end hunger.