Zito and Suzanne called up Erica Flores, President of the Board of Directors of the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, to discuss the scope of the Food Bank's work in our community.
"We are something of a clearinghouse. A little bit like a middleman between government food resources and all of the smaller food pantries and food programs that you see all over the Valley."
Last year, the Food Bank was confronted with historic levels of need in Western Mass.
"It sort of just came out of nowhere," Flores remarks on the COVID-19 pandemic. "Over a span of just weeks, the increase in folks who are seeking out food assistance was really remarkable."
"There were so many job losses so quickly and it put a lot of strain on all of our partner agencies."
"All of those member agencies were really crushed with additional people coming to seek out food resources. In addition, you know, there were all these new protocols that made it more challenging to get that food into people's hands."
"It put a strain on the entire network, but we really stepped up. I think the work that was done by our team was really, really remarkable."
Food Bank employees and volunteers didn't let the pandemic put a stop to their work. Instead, many chose to put their community ahead of their personal interests.
"So many people voluntarily decided to continue to go out and work in the community knowing that there was some risk to their own personal health in doing so."
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Photo: Food Bank of Western Massachusetts