Rachel’s Table Adds Seven New Drivers, Three Food Donors and Two Agencies in Hampshire County Area
SPRINGFIELD — Rachel’s Table, the nearly 30-year-old food rescue and redistribution program of the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts, is expanding its daily program into Hampshire County.
Six days a week more than 200 Rachel’s Table volunteers collect food from over 60 donors such as local supermarkets, restaurants, caterers, farms, and bakeries, and deliver it to more than 50 agencies, including soup kitchens, food pantries, and shelters in the Pioneer Valley.
Rachel’s Table’s expansion plans include adding seven Hampshire County-based drivers; three new food donors in Hadley, Amherst and Northampton; and two new agencies in Amherst and Northampton.
Rachel’s Table already rescues and distributes hundreds of pounds of healthy food to Hampden and Franklin Counties.
For years hundreds of volunteer gleaners have rescued fruits and vegetables at the Hampshire County-based farms that donate their produce to local agencies. And during the Covid-19 pandemic, Rachel’s Table delivered meat and produce to the entire Upper Valley through its Healthy Community Emergency Food Fund. This included 100 pounds of meat and gallons of milk.
Now Rachel’s Table will officially rescue and redistribute food in Hampshire County six days a week.
“One of our main goals at Rachel’s Table has been to fund programs that support food security throughout the Pioneer Valley,” says Jodi Falk, Rachel’s Table director. “While we have had a presence in Hampshire County through our gleaning program, we have now been able to expand and fill in the hunger gaps in this region by making sure local food goes to local people and not to landfill.”
Rachel’s Table also plans to bring their new Growing Garden initiative to Hampshire County, providing materials and mentoring to help Hampshire County agencies grow their own food.
“This seeds the future of food security and provides more direct access to healthy, culturally appropriate and personally desired food,” says Falk.
During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Rachel’s Table increased drivers and deliveries to local agencies. Cooley Dickinson Hospital, Atkins Farms, and several Pride gas stations now have their food donations delivered three days a week to Manna Community Soup Kitchen in Northampton.
As part of its annual Foodraiser event, Rachel’s Table donated food to the Amherst Survival Center, purchased shelf-stable milk through its Kalicka fund, and provided meat and produce through its Healthy Community Emergency Food Fund.
Pandemic deliveries included between 70,000 to 140,000 pounds of food a month to over 53 agencies in Hamden, Hampshire and Franklin Counties.
“It’s been a great experience to be able to provide food from Atkins Farms and bring to Manna on Sunday mornings,” said Addie Stiles, a volunteer driver in Hampshire County. “The folks at Atkins are always so wonderful and knowing that they are willing to help our community is great. The team at Manna are always so appreciative every time I drop off. I love being able to give back to the community of Northampton, where I grew up.”
People interested in driving for Rachel’s Table, or who know of food from a local restaurant, bakery or grocery store that is going to waste, please contact Rachel’s Table at www.rachelstablepv.org. During the pandemic, Rachel’s Table delivered between 70,000 to 140,000 pounds of food a month to over 53 agencies in Hamden, Hampshire and Franklin Counties. New programs such as the Growing Gardens program at Rachel’s Table supports any of its 53 agencies and their constituents to grow their own personally desired, culturally relevant food.
For more information on how to volunteer or donate visit www.rachelstablepv.org