The faith-based community, usually our biggest supporters, found ways to keep supporting us. Several churches held drive-up food drives: pretty clever, don’t you think? Many people who donated cash via their weekly church services, continued to send donations to ensure they maintained their support of the Center. Other people, upon receiving a stimulus check, used those funds to support various charitable agencies, including the Center. Many of our monthly supporters increased their monthly amounts. And then there were the grants…to name a few, the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts awarded us with funds to help with staffing costs; Serve with Liberty, who usually send a volunteer group to help with Flip Day, instead awarded us grant funds; Chicopee Savings Charitable Foundation had awarded the Center a 3-year grant, paid the last of their pledge early to help with the pandemic; and the inFaith Foundation awarded funds to help the homeless population in our area. Several came in right after the close of our fiscal year including the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, which awarded us monies to purchase food as well as paper and plastic bags for distributing the food; the Eastman Foundation provided money for food and for a new freezer; and the Ludlow Elks gave us a Spotlight Grant to help with COVID relief.
Since we had to close our shops as non-essential services, we were concerned that, without that income, we may have had to close. The community really came to our rescue and we are extremely grateful. We cut back the hours of the Emergency Food Pantry to just two days a week and we served clients outside so that we could maintain social distancing and keep everyone safe.
Even with all the above, we managed to provide necessary and nutritious food to families and individuals from Ludlow, Wilbraham, and Hampden, as well as the Indian Orchard, Sixteen Acres, and Pine Point neighborhoods of Springfield. More than 150 seniors, residents of Hampden County, visited the Pantry each month to receive a supplemental food package that included breakfast items and frozen meats. Additionally, 15 preschool children were provided with a monthly food package of 20 breakfasts, lunches, and healthy snacks. We were even able to increase food distribution from six times a year, to seven, during the pandemic months.
We did all this thanks to the community; each and every one of you.