Posted on October 25, 2021
It is in the spirit of community that I write to you today. As an organization, our mission is to work in partnership with the community to alleviate hunger and you are that community. I write today to bring you behind the scenes into what we have been grappling with and how we have been growing over this past year.
For 37 years, FCCMP has worked closely with our community to provide what our neighbors need more than anything; food. We have filled this need and grown to do so, from one humble gathering in Greenfield started in 1984 to now operating four free meal sites, two food pantries, and a mobile food bank. The ongoing crisis of food insecurity has grown due to the pandemic, challenging organizations like ours to think critically about how to do more, effectively. COVID-19 illuminated something very key to understanding the work of basic needs: the ability to meet basic needs can flip on a dime due to forces that are out of any individual’s control. It made glaring the systemic issues that stand in the way of one’s ability to access resources. So we continue to dig deeper in our work to not only provide food for those who come to our door, but to work with the community to untangle and tackle the root causes of hunger.
First, we asked what does our community need?
The answer was increased access to food and other basic needs. In response, we expanded our Orange Pantry Outreach Program from serving one low income housing unit in Greenfield (Winslow Apartments), to providing a weekly pop-up table at Redbrook Apartments in Orange, pop up tables at our Greenfield and Orange Community Meal sites, and delivery to our pantry patrons. We also began providing delivery for guests to our Orange Community Meal site. Finally, we opened a 4th meal site in partnership with Trinitarian Congregational Church of Northfield, increasing access to resources for a rural community. All of these things have increased access to food in our region.
Then we asked, what do we need to do this work?
Non-profit organizations have their own relationship with accessing resources. Last year in our annual appeal, I wrote about a volunteer driver’s truck so full to the brim with food that it spilled out onto the highway. For years, we have operated with what we have. We have been tremendously blessed by all of the people who make our work possible and amazed by the community organizing that brings resources to our table. But with the rising need, our need for infrastructure and ability to access it has also been in flux. Thanks to a grant from the Commonwealth of MA, we purchased a new refrigerated vehicle to aid us in transporting food between our 7 programs. With more space and refrigeration capacity, this historic moment for FCCMP has provided us with efficient and effective coordination between our programs; all in all allowing us to bring more food to more people.
Finally, we asked what do we value and how do we bring those values into how we serve this community?
This year, we worked to articulate our foundation for why and how we do what we do; to inform our decision making, to onboard and educate our staff and volunteers, and to ensure that our impact was intentional and informed by guiding principles. Click here to read more about FCCMP’s mission, vision and values.
With COVID’s longevity and impact still an uncertainty, we have learned that what felt like temporary shifts are now how we operate. Our programs and organization do not look the same. But one thing that remains is our dedication to feeding our neighbors in need and our mission to work in partnership with the community to do so. Behind the scenes, we work tirelessly to re-envision how we can continue to operate our essential programs. Despite programmatic shifts, we continue to meet the need, thanks in large part to our partnerships and relationships across the region.
So, thank you for joining us as we continue to understand and untangle this complex issue and tap into the abundance of resources at our disposal. Thank you for putting your trust and support in us. Neighbors Feeding Neighbors is what we do because of the network of support you and thousands of others in our community provide.