The Food Bank receives $30,000 grant award from Health New England to support Puerto Rican self-evacuees

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts is excited to announce that we have received a $30,000 grant award from Health New England to support Puerto Rican self-evacuees settling in western Massachusetts following Hurricane Maria. The Food Bank has been collaborating with community organizations throughout the region to provide self-evacuees with their most basic need: food.

The grant award will fund the food needs of the two designated welcome centers with the greatest influx of new people: Springfield Family Resource Center and Enlace de Familias Resource Center of Holyoke.

“We are very grateful for Health New England’s support in providing us this valuable grant,” explains Andrew Morehouse, Executive Director of The Food Bank. “As we face these unprecedented challenges, we are reminded that it is going to take all of us, working together, to strengthen our community. It is through these partnerships that we are able to feed our neighbors in need.”

Since self-evacuees began arriving in western Massachusetts last October, The Food Bank has been working with these local organizations to ensure everyone has access to healthy food. We’ve been making weekly deliveries to Enlace de Familias to provide food for approximately 125 families per week. The provisions of canned fruit and vegetables, soup, rice, beans, cereal, pasta, peanut butter and other staples afford families nourishment as they get themselves settled. We’ve also been delivering food weekly to the Springfield Family Resource Center. Additionally, their Agency Relations team has been connecting all families with their other local partner feeding programs so they can continue to access healthy food, and their SNAP Coordinators have been on site in Holyoke enrolling self-evacuees to receive federal SNAP food benefits.

Currently, more than 223,000 people in western Massachusetts are impacted by food insecurity. Last year, The Food Bank distributed more than 10.6 million pounds of food (the equivalent of 8.8 million meals). The food was distributed through their member agencies, comprised of local food pantries, meals sites and shelters. We also distribute food through their direct-to-client programs — the Mobile Food Bank and the Brown Bag: Food for Elders program.