Annual Report – Fiscal Year 2021
October 1, 2020 – September 30, 2021
The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts has published our annual report with our lists of donors online. This digital format reduces our environmental impact and printing and mailing costs, so that we can distribute more healthy food throughout the region. Thank you to all of our donors who continue to support our mission. We are honored to count you as a partner in our effort to feed our neighbors in need and lead the community to end hunger.
From the Executive Director & Board President
We began this letter last year by saying, “While 2020 is the year we all want to put behind us, we’re not out of the woods yet.” Little did we know, 2021 would also be devastating in terms of food insecurity. Hopefully, we have a more positive future ahead of us.
Last year, we made available the equivalent of about a million meals of healthy food every month to an average of about 103,000 individuals. We couldn’t have done it without our committed and resourceful frontline member food pantries and meal sites — now more than 170 strong — dotted across all four counties of Western Massachusetts. Fortunately, we are now witnessing the monthly average fall to pre-pandemic levels of about 86,000 — still unconscionable for our region.
Even with the pandemic easing and unemployment levels dropping, many households and communities will continue to be left behind because economic growth is never even and historically does not “raise all boats.” To make matters worse, prices for food, fuel and other consumer goods are rising to historic levels due to continuing supply chain obstacles and, more recently, the war in Ukraine. And, we know households with the lowest incomes spend a much greater share of their income on food (almost five times more) than the highest-income households.
Households with limited financial resources invariably face food insecurity. However, they are not all the same. Most are children and elders who do not work and must rely on others to care for them. They are also veterans and people with disabilities who are unable to work. Even able-bodied people who work full-time at minimum or near-minimum wage may face food insecurity. The pandemic also revealed what we have known to be true for some time — that heads of households can become unemployed because of natural or man-made economic “disasters” (i.e. the Great Recession) for a whole host of reasons, including lack of accessible employment opportunities or affordable transportation, childcare, education, (systemic) racism, etc.
People’s stories of lived experience are as complex and diverse as the people living with food insecurity. What they often have in common is personal anguish, societal imposed shame and the fervent desire to achieve economic stability. As one person shared recently, “I don’t want to rely on rental assistance from the government, I want help to be able to buy my own home and raise my family in it.”
With your support, The Food Bank enters its 40th year steadfast in partnership with you, our members, farmers, businesses, public officials, and other community-based organizations. Together, we ensure that those in need of food assistance receive healthy food when they need it. We firmly believe economic stability starts but doesn’t end with food security. True to our mission to end hunger, we must continue to forge creative solutions with our partners. We are very grateful to you for being one of them.
The Food Bank's 40th Anniversary
Innovation, Resilience, & Heart Across The Regional Emergency
I’m responsible for maintaining relationships with the 173 food pantries and meal programs that receive food from The Food Bank. They must become members, which means meeting requirements of food safety, data collection and regular inspections. Members can also access opportunities to network with each other, apply for capacity building grants, and attend workshops…
Holistic Approach To Foster Food Security & Health
For the past four years, The Food Bank has assisted patients from Western Massachusetts health centers and hospitals through the Food Insecurity Screening and Referral Initiative (FISRI). This initiative was piloted in 2017 and initiated in January 2018, thanks to a three-year innovation grant from the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts. FISRI is The Food Bank’s way of partnering with health providers to connect residents to services to become more food secure and healthy. Although the initial referral for services addresses food insecurity, our staff also directs patients to other services that can bring them more economic stability.
The Arc of Advocacy at The Food Bank
To meet our mission, The Food Bank’s advocacy team works in partnership with other community leaders and coalitions to advocate for legislation that addresses hunger’s underlying causes. As Congressman Jim McGovern says, “no one should go hungry in the wealthiest country in the history of the world. Hunger is a political problem, and it requires a political solution.”
Food Distribution & Its Impact
Western Massachusetts has experienced dramatic swings in food insecurity between 2019 and 2021 due to the pandemic. Before the pandemic struck our region, an average of about 94,000 individuals received food assistance every month. This figure skyrocketed by 20% in 2020 only to return to pre-pandemic levels in late 2021. In response, The Food Bank and our front-line emergency food network partners distributed about 30% more healthy food in 2020. Mirroring the decline in food insecurity, food distribution also decreased to pre-pandemic levels in 2021.
The Reason For The Decline In 2021 …
Was a massive infusion of federal benefits that had the desired effect of reducing food insecurity such as child tax credits, stimulus payments, unemployment benefits, universal school meals, and SNAP emergency allotments and benefit increases. Now that these programs have expired or are about to expire, coupled with high inflation, our network is projected again to increase food distribution by about ten percent.
Exacerbated By The Pandemic…
The lack of storage space at The Food Bank’s warehouse in Hatfield has forced us to turn away more than one million pounds of food donations over the last three and a half years. Foreseeing this many years ago, The Food Bank purchased vacant property in December 2020 at the Chicopee River Business Park to build its future, larger, and greener food distribution center and headquarters.
Our New Facility …
• Will be twice the size of our current facility
• Will be a net zero carbon emitter
• Will enable The Food Bank to provide more healthy food assistance to more people for decades to come
The Food Bank broke ground on its new home in June and will complete construction next spring. We will move in over the summer of 2023. Visit this page to learn more about our capital campaign and consider supporting it. We’re close to reaching our goal!
Food Bank Donors
Thank you to all of our donors who continue to support our mission. We are honored to count you as a partner in our effort to feed our neighbors in need and lead the community to end hunger.
These recognitions are for contributions to our operating support. Donor lists for special campaigns are posted separately
More about The Food Bank
Annual Report Archive
Fiscal Year: 2020
Fiscal Year: 2019
Fiscal Year: 2018
Fiscal Year: 2017
The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. As a gold-level GuideStar participant, we demonstrate our commitment to transparency. Check our GuideStar profile for more financial information, including our IRS Form 990.
SNAP application assistance is still available via phone at (413) 992-6204. Please check our SNAP page for more information.