Groups work together to get food to Northampton’s needy

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  • Volunteer Sasha Paris, 7, of Florence, takes her cart back for another load after dropping off a bundle of produce and foodstuffs, and a meal cooked by Northampton eatery Jake’s, on this doorstep in Florence Heights on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The groceries are provided through the Community Food Distribution program of the Northampton Survival Center and Grow Food Northampton and the meal comes by way of the new “Feeding the Frontlines - Nourishing Our Community” program, a joint effort by Grow Food Northampton and the Downtown Northampton Association. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Volunteer Sid Wanner, 9, of Florence, delivers groceries, as well as a meal cooked by the Northampton eatery Jake's, to a family in Florence Heights on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. Through a joint effort by Grow Food Northampton and the Downtown Northampton Association, the new "Feeding the Frontlines - Nourishing Our Community" program is able to add meals cooked by local restaurants to the food already being delivered to households through the Community Food Distribution program of the Northampton Survival Center and Grow Food Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Volunteer Emmy Paris, left, of Florence and Downtown Northampton Association Executive Director Amy Cahillane load up a truck at the Northampton Survival Center to deliver groceries from the Community Food Distribution program as well as cooked meals from the new "Feeding the Frontlines - Nourishing Our Community" program on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • This packaged meal, center, cooked by Northampton eatery Jake's, is included with a delivery of groceries to a home at Florence Heights in Northampton on Tuesday morning, Jan. 12, 2021. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Francie Lin of Grow Food Northampton loads food onto a vehicle at the Northampton Survival Center for delivery to the Lumber Yard apartments in Northampton on Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Volunteer Emmy Paris and her children, Sid Wanner, left, 9, and Sasha Paris, 7, of Florence deliver meals and groceries to families at Florence Heights on Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Some of the 24 meals that were delivered to Northampton households on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021, as part of the "Feeding the Frontlines - Nourishing Our Community" program. On Tuesday the meals were cooked by Northampton eatery Jake's. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 1/12/2021 7:51:08 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Since the start of the pandemic, the Community Food Distribution Project has delivered 27,000 packages of food, according to Alisa Klein, the executive director of Grow Food Northampton, which runs the program with the Northampton Survival Center.

On Tuesday, participants at the Lumber Yard and Florence Heights apartments received an extra container with their regular bundle of food: a warm meal of meatloaf, garlic green beans, and smoked gouda mac and cheese cooked by Jake’s on King Street.

It was the first day of a new initiative launched by Grow Food Northampton and the Downtown Northampton Association. The organizations are providing meals made by local restaurants to people who are food-insecure.

“It’s exciting to be able to create some ease in people’s life,” Klein said.

Twenty-four meals were delivered on Tuesday, and “we are planning in the coming weeks to cover all 13 sites that we provide food packages to … basically all the subsidized housing communities in the city,” Klein said.

In the spring, the DNA had been working to deliver meals to staff at Cooley Dickinson Hospital, and after taking a break, Amy Cahillane, the association’s executive director, said they decided to start the new meals project.

“We are still hoping to feed folks at Cooley Dickinson, but we saw other needs in our community, particularly in the middle of the winter,” Cahillane said. “We wanted to look for a way we could feed our friends and neighbors who are experiencing food insecurity.”

During the pandemic, food insecurity has been a growing issue around the country and in Northampton.

“We definitely saw a doubling of food insecurity in the first few months of the pandemic,” Klein said, adding that in the past few months, the number of meals they delivered remained steady.

More than a dozen restaurants have signed up to cook, including Belly of the Beast, Fitzwilly’s, India House, La Veracruzana, Local, Miss Florence Diner, and Roberto’s.

“It’s an incredible win-win,” Klein said. “This supports small business owners, restaurant owners, and people experiencing food insecurity.”

Whalen Insurance donated money to start the project and pay the restaurants, Klein said.

“We’re very grateful for them. We’re looking for additional business sponsors,” she said. “We’re all working together to create this food system that’s really supporting members of our community who are struggling. It’s an exciting, collaborative effort.”

Cahillane said the community can make donations for the project through the DNA website.

Greta Jochem can be reached at gjochem@gazettenet.com.




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