Rachel’s Table, now part of Jewish Federation, becoming independent nonprofit

By CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer

Published: 03-12-2023 7:21 PM

SPRINGFIELD — After 30 years under the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts’ umbrella, the food rescue nonprofit Rachel’s Table will become its own standalone organization this summer.

The separation will give Rachel’s Table full fiscal, operational and programmatic control to extend its reach in Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden counties. For the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts, the split will allow it to further develop its current programs, while also creating new ones.

“It’s a big deal and it was done with a great deal of consideration from all angles,” said Rachel’s Table Director Jodi Falk. “We all believe it’s a win-win and we’re all really excited to be on the same team but in a different capacity.”

Founded in 1992, Rachel’s Table works up and down the Valley to alleviate hunger with its more than 200 volunteers collecting food and delivering it six days a week. It also fosters community activism by raising awareness about food insecurity through its Teen Board, Bea’s Harvest and Growing Gardens initiatives.

Federation CEO Nora Gorenstein said in a statement that the separation of Rachel’s Table is the “next natural step” for the program.

“The Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts is proud of Rachel’s Table’s achievements and is excited to see Rachel’s Table come into its own as a nonprofit organization,” Gorenstein said. “Over the past 30 years, we have proudly seen Rachel’s Table grow and evolve in ways we never imagined. Therefore, we felt this transition was the next natural step for Rachel’s Table.”

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Falk said the split will allow Rachel’s Table to be “really responsive to the communities that we serve” by allowing the organization more flexibility in its operations. With how much programs such as Growing Gardens or the use of a refrigerated food delivery van are expanding, Falk said they can manage that growth better when there is no overhead.

“The management of that plan is easier with a little more flexibility,” Falk said, adding that branching out as its own nonprofit better allows Rachel’s Table to pivot “quickly in the direction of the greatest need.”

The growth of Rachel’s Table’s, Falk said, comes at a time when hunger in the Valley continues to grow in the wake of the pandemic and increasing inflation. As the soon-to-be independent nonprofit expands, Falk noted this is an “important time in our world and our backyard” to ensure people are being fed.

For the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts, Donor Impact Officer Bobby Naimark said the separation “gives us more of an opportunity to really delve into what our community needs are.”

He cited its Dignity Grows program, which distributes menstrual and hygiene products, and the bike fundraiser Ride to Provide as two examples of things that can receive more attention.

As the transition process plays out, Rachel’s Table will continue to receive support from the Jewish Federation and all current daily operations will continue without disruption. To help with the process, an action plan was developed and temporary support has been hired to ensure the transition is successful.

Naimark expects the transition to be complete sometime around the end of June.

Both Rachel’s Table and the Jewish Federation are always seeking volunteers and anyone is welcome to help.

“With our growth, we’d love any kind of community support,” Falk said. “Rachel’s Table is about communities helping communities. … We are powered by volunteers.”

More information about Rachel’s Table, including an email or phone number for volunteers to call, can be found at rachelstablespringfield.org. More information about the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts is available at jewishwesternmass.org.

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.]]>