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Brown Bag: Food for Elders

EScott_070511_8982Since 1983, Brown Bag: Food for Elders has been one of The Food Bank’s core programs.  It is the largest direct-to-client hunger relief service in western Massachusetts, made possible by the work of hundreds of volunteers, most of them elders themselves.  About 8,500 low-income elders across western Massachusetts’ four counties participate in the program, receiving a free bag of healthy groceries once a month.

Brown Bag supplies nutritious groceries that enable elders to make easy meals and eat a balanced diet, which is especially important in helping them fight nutrition-related diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. Brown Bag provides special services tailored to the needs of elders:

  • We bring food directly to elders in their home community.
  • Our monthly distribution day brings elders together.  Participants are drawn into other programs, resources, and social activities provided by Councils on Aging and Senior Centers.
  • Our pick up process is easy for elders and our sites are staffed by elder volunteers.
  • The foods included in Brown Bags are specifically selected to meet the special dietary needs of elders.  Foods are low in sugar and salt, and high in the nutrients elders need.
  • The Brown Bag program instills a feeling of self-sufficiency, pride, and ownership.  Many participants volunteer at distribution sites, making the program truly community-based and -run.
  • Information about fuel assistance, SNAP, and preventative health programs is distributed along with the bags, helping to connect elders with other needed services.

The Brown Bag program is for elders over the age of 55 who meet certain income guidelines (PDF).  People who qualify for SSI, Medicaid, Fuel Assistance or Veteran’s Aid, probably qualify to receive Brown Bag monthly groceries, but many other people qualify, too.  For more information about eligibility or to apply for Brown Bag, please call The Food Bank at 413-247-9738 or 1-800-247-9632.  You can download an application (PDF) in English or Spanish and mail it to us.

Call our Brown Bag department at 413-247-9738 for additional information.


This program is made possible by the support of