Hunger is an epidemic of our time — one of the many symptoms of poverty (including working poverty and near-poverty) in our country. The need for emergency food to feed our neighbors in need continues to increase year after year. In our last fiscal year, The Food Bank distributed just over 10 million pounds of food. It’s more apparent that food banking alone will not bring an end to hunger. It will take sustainable, long-term systemic change to ensure that everyone has access to healthy food.

In January 2016, The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts took a big step towards real change, as we launched the Task Force to End Hunger. Developed as part of The Food Bank’s strategic plan, the Task Force brought together a group of thought leaders from all four counties of Western Massachusetts, representing diverse sectors of the community. Policy makers, business leaders, education professionals, health care administrators and religious leaders engaged in serious discussions about hunger, its causes and strategies to find solutions.

Over the course of the past year, the Task Force met regularly to develop a bold yet pragmatic plan of action to end hunger in our region. The Task Force also hosted a series of community forums (one in each of the counties of Western Massachusetts) to gather input from the community. By leveraging the energy and resources of committed organizations and community members, the Task Force has begun to create ideas and recommendations that will serve as a road map to bring about substantial change. The Task Force is currently developing its plan, which will be released in early March.