For Big Y, hunger relief is “one of our pillars of commitment” in Berkshire County

Three volunteers standing in front of a Big Y World Class Market tractor trailer. They are volunteers at the St. John Paul Charity Center in Adams, MA.

Volunteers from St. John Paul Charity Center, Adams, MA

Every Tuesday morning, a driver from Big Y World Class Market delivers a tractor trailer load of donated food items to our warehouse in Hatfield. Our warehouse staff has a carefully orchestrated system for unloading the pallets of food, which contain tens of thousands of pounds of items whose containers have been damaged or whose industry “sell by” dates are nearing.  Staff transport them to our sorting room where crews of volunteers inspect every item for safety.  At the same time, we fill the Big Y trailer back up with other items — healthy groceries that volunteers already have inspected, sorted and picked for the weekly Berkshire “Depot Drop” in Pittsfield. Established in 2011, more than a dozen of our member agencies – local food pantries and meal sites – receive weekly deliveries of food for distribution to food-insecure households in their communities.

Big Y’s tremendous in-kind support of the Depot Drop demonstrates a major commitment to local households struggling to put food on the table.  “It’s amazing,” says Shirley Del Rio, Director of Food Operations at The Food Bank. “Big Y provides us with a tractor trailer and driver for the delivery at no charge. Fuel costs are included.”

“We all have a responsibility to help end food insecurity and hunger in our community and at Big Y, food security and hunger relief are one of the pillars of our commitment to families and those in need in our region,” stated Charles L. D’Amour, President and CEO of Big Y.

“In addition, food waste is a serious problem in our country and diverting good, healthy, nutritious and wholesome food away from landfills to help our most needy and vulnerable friends and neighbors is not only a win/win for our communities, but it is also the right thing to do.”

Larry Clairmont holding a 24 ound bag of rice

Larry Clairmont, Manager, St. John Paul Charity Center, Adams, MA

Picking up food was a costly endeavor

For many Berkshire County-based member agencies with small operating budgets, getting to our warehouse in Hatfield is a costly endeavor.  The St. John Paul Charity Center in Adams, for example, relies on the food they receive at the Depot Drop. Prior to 2011, their volunteers would drive 200 miles round trip weekly to pick up food from The Food Bank for the 75 to 90 clients who visit the center’s food pantry on a regular basis. They used their own vehicles and paid transportation costs themselves, clocking in thousands of miles annually.

“I wonder,” reflects Larry Clairmont, manager of the Charity Center, “if we would still be open without having the Big Y truck delivering our food to Pittsfield.”

With the process for food pick up so much easier, member agencies like St. John’s Charity Center can spend more time providing community members with healthy food.

“The Depot Drop has delivered close to eight million pounds of food to the Berkshires on our behalf,” Del Rio explains. “It has allowed us to distribute 48% more food to Berkshire County since its implementation. We really respect and appreciate Big Y’s partnership and their commitment to our mission.”

“As proud members of the Berkshire community for over 35 years, we’re happy to partner with The Food Bank of Western Mass. to help those in Berkshire County with food deliveries to the Depot Drop,” Charles L. D’Amour adds.