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Hilltown Pantry offers extras  to families, children for summer

  • HEIDI NORTONSMITH
  • JERREY ROBERTS<br/>Heidi Nortonsmith, executive director of Northampton Survival Center, stands in the newly renovated center Thursday. A waiting area for children is new.

The Hilltown Food Pantry in Goshen will provide extra provisions for families with school-aged children home during July and August. The program is designed to fill in for the free or reduced school meals that qualified children receive during the regular school year.

“We often have families just come down during the summer for a little extra help,” Hilltown Pantry Director Diane Meehan said.

The pre-packed children’s meals contain breakfast cereal, canned vegetables and fresh fruit, canned soup, macaroni and cheese, peanut butter, jelly, tuna, and milk.

A satellite program of the Northampton Survival Center, the Hilltown Food Pantry serves a total of about 185 people a month. Of that number, 40 children are participating in the summer program this year.

Children who have received free or reduced meals at school this year qualify for the special program. Children from qualifying families who have recently moved to the Hilltowns may participate in the program as well.

Heidi Nortonsmith, executive director of the Northampton Survival Center, said feedback on the program has been exceptionally positive. “We know that the summer program is a godsend for several families in the Hilltowns. ... So many people have expressed such gratitude for the program,” she said.

Meehan said the food pantry serves residents in Chesterfield, Cummington, Goshen, Plainfield, Westhampton, Williamsburg and Worthington.

“We have a whole range of people that we serve from infants to seniors, working families, disabled people, single people, anyone struggling to make ends meet,” Meehan said.

According to Meehan, to qualify for assistance, residents must be: single with an income up to $409 per week; a household of two with a combined, weekly income of $552; three people with income of $695; or four people with weekly income of up to $838.

The Hilltown Food Pantry is located in the Goshen Town Office building at 40 Main St. The pantry is open on Wednesdays, 1-3 p.m. with extended hours, 1-6 p.m. the third Wednesday of the month. The pantry entrance is at the rear of the building.

•••

Williamsburg ponders solar energy

The Williamsburg Energy Committee is working towards making solar energy more affordable to residents and businesses through the Solarize Massachusetts program.

Solarize Mass seeks to increase the adoption of small-scale solar electricity in participating communities by using a competitive, tiered pricing structure that increases the savings for everyone as more home- and business-owners sign contracts.

Now in its third year, Solarize Mass, is a partnership between the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (Mass CEC), and the Green Communities Division of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Resources.

According to Energy Committee member Mary Dudek, the project is still in the planning stages.

“We are now taking the steps to move forward as the Select Board has given us the go ahead to do so,” Dudek said.

One of those steps is to invite two other towns to participate in the project with Williamsburg.

“There is a stipulation that requires the towns to have at least 1,000 households in order to qualify,” said Dudek. “There are not many small towns that can meet that number. This is why Williamsburg is seeking to have neighboring towns join the project.”

According to Town Clerk Lynn Sibley, Whatley has roughly 635 households. Town Clerk Brenda Lessard said Williamsburg has slightly more than 1,000. The committee is in negotiations with one other abutting town.

Another step is to ascertain how many residents in the Williamsburg community favor solar power. To that end, the Energy Committee has created a brief survey and is asking for participation. “I created the survey because Northampton had done the same thing, and had gotten good results,” Dudek said. “We hope to be able to generate a lot of interest in the project.”

Cities and towns participating in Solarize Mass are Bourne, Brookline, Chelmsford, Carlisle, Lee, Medford, Medway, Newton, Northampton and Williamstown.

Residents can access the survey by going to the town website at www.burgy.org.

•••

COA goes out to the ballgame

The Cummington Council On Aging is sponsoring a baseball trip to Wahconah Park July 29, when the Pittsfield Sun’s take on the Torrington Titans.

“We did this last year and we had a very good turnout,” Carolyn Urekew, the council’s coordinator said. The event is $7 for seniors and $20 for non-seniors. The price includes an admission ticket and a pre-game picnic with hamburgers, hotdogs, salads and beverages. Call Urekew no later than July 25, to reserve a spot at 634-2262 or 634-2288.

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