In partnership with the the Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts (CFNCM), the United Way of North Central Massachusetts (UWNCM), has awarded $543,600 in grants to 16 local organizations with the goal of supporting nutritional equity throughout the community. The federal funds, available through the CARES Act, support organizations that are critical to providing relief from food insecurity.

“Food insecurity was already a challenge in our region and the pandemic has only exacerbated the issue for many people in the communities we serve, including the elderly and homebound, low-income families, veterans, people of color and the homeless,” said Stephen Adams, president of the Community Foundation. “Along with our partners at the United Way, we are grateful to be a conduit to getting this much-needed support to organizations that are making an impact.”

Kory Eng, president and CEO of the UWNCM, agreed. “We are proud to partner with the Community Foundation and this important network of agency partners to bring hunger relief to North Central Massachusetts.”

Rachel Berggren, executive director of the Franklin County Community Meals Program in Greenfield, which received a $35,000 grant, noted, “COVID has required us to shift and grow in ways that seemed impossible. As food insecurity has grown across the region, we have had to expand our programs to ensure more people have better access to fresh, healthy food. This grant will have a huge impact in ensuring that we can continue to creatively and adaptively show up for the communities we serve.”

Stephanie Marchetti, EdD, executive director of the Montachusett Veterans Outreach Center in Gardner, described how they will use their $14,500 grant to make several exciting and much-needed updates to their pantry. “For our veterans and their families, these funds will allow us to expand the variety of foods we offer so that those with dietary restrictions are well-served at each of their visits,” she said.

Dr. Moses Dixon, president and CEO of the Central Massachusetts Agency on Aging in Worcester noted that their $35,000 grant “will allow us to ensure that seniors have access to food that meets their cultural and medical needs. At the same time, it preserves and protects their dignity.”

Seeds of Solidarity in Orange was the recipient of a $20,600 grant. Deborah Leta Habib, Ed.D., its executive director, explained, “This grant enables our organization to launch a new program that provides farm-fresh food to low-income families, along with gardening activities and recipes to promote pleasurable family time and well-being, all critical as families emerge from the many stresses of these challenging times.”

Pat Larson, from Orange’s Quabbin Food Connector, Inc., Board of Directors, described how they will use their $22,500 grant. “We are thrilled to be able to add healthy protein to the other options available to low-wealth eaters in our area. It’s one of the hardest things for people to access and such a wonderful way to benefit both recipients and our hard-working local farmers.”

In Fitchburg, Emily MacRae from the North Central Massachusetts Faith Based Community Coalition, expressed how much they appreciated the $35,000 grant. “We provide hot, freshly prepared meals to the elderly, physically or mentally challenged and the homeless. Most that we serve have little or no access to cooking facilities or transportation.”

Another $35,000 grant was awarded to World Farmers in Lancaster. Henrietta Isaboke, executive director, explained, “This grant will have a great impact for the immigrant and refugee farmers in our Flats Mentor Farm program by providing a stable market; especially after back-to-back seasons of COVID impacts and severe flooding. As an organization, getting the opportunity to provide culturally relevant crops to hungry communities in North Central Massachusetts is a rewarding way to be a part of the Massachusetts Food System.”

Additional organizations who received grant money include: