Florence Bank Gives $50,000 Grant to Community Food Distribution Project
Funds to help provide food for people struggling with finances due to COVID-19
FLORENCE—Florence Bank has donated $50,000 to the Community Food Distribution Project (CFDP) created jointly by the Northampton Survival Center and Grow Food Northampton to help fund emergency food distribution for area residents who are experiencing food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new collaborative makes food staples available through on-site distributions three days a week at Northampton’s Jackson Street School and through delivery and pick-up two days a week at 11 local sites. Food is available at all locations to area residents, even if they did not need help accessing food in the past.
The donation from the bank is one of the largest received to date by the CFDP; the effort also received $25,000 in Community Development Block Grant emergency funds from the city of Northampton, $30,000 from the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, and funds from individual donors.
“We are pleased to be able to contribute to these worthy organizations that meet the needs of our most vulnerable community members during this time of crisis,” said Florence Bank President Kevin R. Day. “The Community Food Distribution Project was easy to get behind. It’s a grassroots effort created and supported by our local community to help those most in need.”
Grow Food Northampton and the Northampton Survival Center established the food collaborative in partnership with Community Action Pioneer Valley, the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, the city of Northampton, and Northampton Public Schools.
As the primary partners, Grow Food Northampton and Northampton Survival Center will share the bank’s $50,000 donation equally to provide locally-grown, organic produce, non-perishable foods such as canned goods and pasta, as well as fresh meats and dairy.
Heidi Nortonsmith, executive director of the Northampton Survival Center said, “Despite needing to close its building temporarily, The Survival Center was able to reproduce a fully-functional staging and distribution site at Jackson Street School, generously lent to us by the city of Northampton. Grow Food Northampton brings its expertise in mobile food distribution to the project and Community Action brings its experience and expertise in relocating a food pantry site.”
Grow Food Northampton partnered with Local Roots Care, led by Northampton residents Dr. Martin Wohl and Marisa Labozzetta, to purchase fresh produce and other farm products directly from local farmers. These locally-sourced products are included in every bag and box of food that is distributed or delivered through the project.
Farmers taking part so far are Apex Orchards of Shelburne Falls, Hart Farm of Conway, Red Fire Farm of Granby, and Joe Czajkowski & Lakeside Organics of Hadley LLC.
Alisa Klein, executive director of Grow Food Northampton said, “This project not only feeds our neighbors in need, but also provides local farmers with a way to stay afloat during this time in which their usual markets, such as local restaurants and farmers’ markets, have by and large closed.”
Grow Food Northampton is providing doorstep delivery and pick-up to 11 locations on Tuesdays and Thursdays every week. On Tuesdays, they provide deliveries to Hampshire Heights, Florence Heights, Meadowbrook, Pioneer Valley Workers Center, and The Lumber Yard.
On Thursdays, they provide deliveries to Northampton Housing Authority locations, including Salvo and McDonald houses; Forsander, Cahill, and Tobin Manor apartments; and most recently, to Michael’s House.
Northampton Survival Center’s distribution site at Jackson Street School is open every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from noon to 3 p.m.
To learn more or donate to the Community Food Distribution Project, visit https://www.florencebank.com/standingtogether.
Florence Bank has branches in Amherst, Belchertown, Easthampton, Granby, Hadley, Northampton, Williamsburg, West Springfield, and Springfield, and it is headquartered in Florence.
Florence Bank is a mutually-owned savings bank chartered in 1873. Currently, the bank serves the Pioneer Valley through 11 full-service branch locations in Florence, Northampton, Easthampton, Williamsburg, Amherst, Hadley, Belchertown, Granby, West Springfield, and Springfield. Additionally, they offer 24 ATMs and a wide range of financial services including investment management through FSB Financial Group (FSBFG) to consumers and businesses. Florence Bank is consistently voted best local bank by the readers of the Valley Advocate and the Daily Hampshire Gazette.