Northampton police collect donated food for Survival Center

  • Officers Clay Delano, left, Tyler Hampson and Justin Hooten next to a pickup filled with donations Saturday for the Northampton Survival Center. Contributed Photo

Staff Writer
Published: 12/10/2019 11:55:34 PM

NORTHAMPTON — The Police Department collected more than 1,400 pounds of donated food Saturday for the Northampton Survival Center, and the department is shooting for another big haul this weekend.

“We are so grateful for community donations like this,” said Heidi Nortonsmith, executive director of the Survival Center.

The effort was part of the department’s third annual Fill a Cruiser, Fill a Belly program.

“I think it’s been going well,” said Police Chief Jody Kasper. “Members of the community have been incredibly generous.”

Department members, including Kasper, were outside Stop & Shop asking shoppers to purchase food items to donate. They did this alongside a department pickup truck, and shoppers could take cards listing preferred food items in with them. Additionally, people were welcome to donate food they brought from their homes.

“We filled the bed and back seat (of the pickup),” said Capt. Robert Powers.

The food was delivered to the Survival Center on Monday, where the haul weighed in at 1,429 pounds.

“It’s brought in with so much joy and good community cheer,” said Nortonsmith, who said that she heard, but didn’t see, the donation arrive.

Last year’s haul was more than 3,400 pounds, and the department is hoping to exceed it this year. The police will be out again collecting food donations this coming Saturday, this time in front of Walmart, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“We’re going to remain optimistic,” Kaspersaid on exceeding the goal. “We hope that people hand us heavy things.”

Nortonsmith said it is great when organizations like the police use their connections to the community to motivate and inspire their neighbors to join the effort to fight hunger.

“We give out about 3,000 pounds of food every day,” she said.

What the police donate, she said, is about what the center gives out each weekday in monthly food supplies to 90 to 100 people. The center serves 18 communities in Hampshire County through its Northampton pantry and its satellite pantry in Goshen, Hilltown Food Pantry.

People donating often stop to chat with department members, Kasper said, noting that a number of people who donate used to depend on the Survival Center themselves.

“It’s nice to hear those stories,” she said, adding that the department frequently comes into contact with people experiencing food insecurity. “We understand the need,” she said.

Winter is one of the Survival Center’s two busiest times, Nortonsmith said, the other being summer when children cannot take advantage of free or reduced-price lunches at school. The increased use during winter comes as a result of people prioritizing visiting the center, because it’s more difficult for them to get around, and because of the cost imposed by heating fuel. This includes clients who live in their cars and run them to stay warm, she said.

The food pantry at the Northampton Survival Center, 265 Prospect St., distributes food on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and on Tuesday and Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m.

The center’s Goshen food pantry, 40 Main St., distributes food every Wednesday from 1 to 3 p.m., and on the third Wednesday of every month from 1 to 6 p.m.

Those going to the Survival Center can get bread, vegetables, fruit, frozen foods and fresh prepared foods on a weekly basis, while every month clients can do a “big shop” that includes the full range of groceries, including meat, milk, cheese, pasta and cereal.

“And much, much, much more,” Nortonsmith added.

No referrals are necessary to use the Survival Center.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.




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