Fork and Spade: A community food digest

  • Lee Anderson, head cook with Manna, prepares a meal on Tuesday, June 9, 2020. Manna provides free meals for the community and shelters throughout the week. gazette file photo

  • Brian Corwin receives a meal from Jeannine Clark, a volunteer with Manna, on June 9. Manna has now opened a daytime warming center. Gazette file photo

For the Gazette
Published: 2/12/2021 4:43:37 PM

February is winter’s halfway point: It’s not dark at 5 p.m. anymore, but warm weather is still a few months off; the holidays are over but everything is frozen.

This February feels like a halfway point of another kind: COVID vaccines are on the horizon, but uncertainty and stress still govern the majority of our lives. It’s difficult at times to picture what the future might look like — for ourselves and our loved ones, our businesses, our schools, our communities and neighbors.

With new stories every day of the ways in which this pandemic has exacerbated inequities that were already present before COVID hit, it’s difficult not to conclude that the future will not — and should not — resemble our past.

With that in mind, Fork and Spade hopes to shine a little light on local community organizations that are working to move the needle on the most basic of human needs: food. “Basic” shouldn’t be so fraught, and yet food access and public health are at the nexus of every major issue, from race to politics to education and sustainability.

This community digest gives a quick monthly overview of the projects our community is working on to not only feed people but to feed them with dignity and equity, and in a way that is sustainable for the future. We still have a long way to go, but with enough people committed to change, the post-pandemic future might be brighter than the before ever was.

Manna openswarming center

This month’s note from Nora Finnerty at Manna Community Kitchen details an exciting and much-needed expansion of Manna’s services to the community.

Nora writes: “Many know Manna Community Kitchen for its efforts to help those dealing with food insecurity by providing healthy and sustaining meals to anyone who may need one, no matter their circumstances. Holding firmly to the belief that no one should have to choose between eating a meal and paying their rent or having enough gas to get to work, Manna provides to-go meals and also delivery service five days a week. We strongly believe that a thoughtfully crafted meal has the ability to bestow a sense of dignity and love.

“While fighting food insecurity has always been Manna’s mission and focus, we have decided to widen the scope of our services by opening the Manna Community Warming Center. Open to the public on Feb. 10th, the Warming Center is a safe place for people struggling with housing to be welcomed — a place to be warm, a place to be connected to other local organizations, and a place to just be.”

Manna Community Kitchen’s meals are served at St. John’s (48 Elm St.) on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m.; and Wednesdays from 6–7 p.m.  

Manna Community Warming Center at St. John’s will be open Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. (closed for lunch from 11:30 a.m.–12 p.m. daily). For more information about both programs, contact Nora Finnerty at

Grow Food Kids

Northampton residents with kids in the public schools will recognize Grow Food Northampton’s Grow Food Kids as the farm and food education program that got your child to try kale salad.

Normally at this time of year, the GF Kids folks would be busy going from classroom to classroom at the elementary schools, connecting with kids and helping them think about where their food comes from while having them make maple butternut squash pudding or butter — but as with all things pandemic school-related, things look a little different this year.

Following on the success of their virtual cooking workshops for second and third graders at all of the elementary schools last fall (apple veggie wraps!), the GF Kids team is now offering free after-school cooking classes for kids 8-13.

This month’s classes are full, but keep an eye out for the March session. If you have a child who loves to cook or wants to learn, contact Jules White ( to sign up.

Winter market

Also: Winter is long! Remind yourself that the ground will not be frozen forever by going to Grow Food’s Northampton Winter Farmers Market on Saturday, Feb. 13, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Northampton Senior Center (67 Conz St.).

Stock up on fresh local greens and a variety of other veggies as well as beautiful houseplants, honey, maple products, beef, pork and more while supporting local farmers directly. SNAP and HIP (Healthy Incentives Program) are accepted, and SNAP and P-EBT are doubled up to $10 per customer with Grow Food’s SNAP matching program.

COVID safety measures for vendors and shoppers include mandatory masks for all people inside the Senior Center, sanitizing of hands and frequently touched surfaces, limited capacity and line to enter, a one-way shopping pattern, and physical distancing.

Francie Lin is the food access coordinator for Grow Food Northampton. She can be reached at

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