Area briefs, June 2: League of Women Voters to host affordable housing talk; food policy council grants for local groups

Published: 06-01-2023 2:54 PM

League of Women Voters to focus on need for affordable housing at meeting

NORTHAMPTON — With a focus on the local impact of the current affordable housing crisis, the League of Women Voters of the Northampton area will host Keith Fairey, CEO of Springfield-based Way Finders, a housing nonprofit which serves western Massachusetts, as the keynote speaker at its annual membership meeting. His topic will be “Our Housing Crisis and the Way Forward.”

Members and their guests will convene at the Florence Civic Center, Tuesday, June 6, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. The League chapter is in the midst of an in-depth two-year study of issues surrounding affordable and appropriate housing in the Pioneer Valley.

Gov. Maura Healey has also named Fairey as co-chair of her recently created housing committee. Among the 24 people selected for this assignment, Fairey is one of only two chosen from western Massachusetts. Way Finders annually offers various kinds of assistance to about 50,000 people in the region who seek to rent or buy a residence they can sustain.

To learn more about this chapter of the LWV go to

Local organizations land grants from food policy council

Three local organizations will receive grants from the state’s Local Food Policy Council program, which this week handed out $250,000 to 17 groups.

The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources’ grants are going to:

■Hampshire County Food Policy Council, Northampton, which will receive $19,999 to coordinate training that focuses on building the capacity of marginalized community members to take a systemic, holistic approach to feed people and working in sectors throughout the food system.

Sociocracy for All, a nonprofit organization, will be hired to help the Council train new and emerging leaders, provide digital tools and resources, and ensure the basic knowledge and understanding community members need.

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The process will be accessible to people with middle- to high school levels of educational attainment and learning differences.

■Hilltown CDC in Chesterfield will get $9,368 to create a farmer/food producer working circle to discuss distribution, production and environmental issues negatively affecting the local food system and identify strategies to address the conditions. Meetings will provide a platform for agricultural producers’ voices to be shared with the Hampshire County Food Policy Council as food system priorities are developed. Funds will be used for meeting coordination, facilitation, and farmer stipends.

■Holyoke Food Economy Coalition will use its $8,000 to support the Local Serve Food Commercial Kitchen in Holyoke through stipends to offset the cost of memberships in the commercial facility. The kitchen works with Nueva Esperanza, a community organization that focuses on the culinary preferences and needs of the Puerto Rican and Afro-Caribbean communities.

The Holyoke Community College culinary program is also a partner. Community organizations help entrepreneurs succeed and support culturally relevant food offerings.

I-90W in West Springfield to close for bridge repair

WEST SPRINGFIELD — The Massachusetts Department of Transportation is announcing that westbound traffic on Interstate 90 in West Springfield will be detoured due to scheduled work beginning at 11 p.m., Saturday, June 3, and until 6 a.m., on Sunday, June 4.

All westbound lanes of I-90 must be closed for bridge repairs and traffic will be detoured off the highway at exit 45. Drivers will be guided by signs directing them to follow the detour and return to I-90 westbound at the Westfield I-90 Interchange.

Drivers who are traveling through the affected areas should expect delays, reduce speed, and use caution.

All scheduled work is weather dependent and/or may be impacted due to an emergency.