HATFIELD- As loading trucks travel around the warehouse, blinking their lights, sounding their buzzers and looking for the correctly labeled spot to drop the recent purchases, the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts looks to keep their shelves stocked and ready to support local organizations helping those in need.
Located out in Hatfield, the food bank continues to serve the 350 small community programs in western mass, as well as its ever-changing landscape of those who are in need.
The food bank gives out about 7.5 million pounds of food a year to small non-profit organizations such a soup kitchens, pantries, senior centers, after school programs and almost anywhere where food is served.
“One in eight people in western mass will get food through the food bank,” says Molly Coon, an education coordinator at the Food Bank, “Across the country that number is even higher on average.”
According to Coon, the demographic the food bank serves has changed “pretty dramatically” over the years.
The food bank, of late, has been serving high amount of children, working families and seniors.
“If you were to work 40 hours a week every week at minimum wage, and you’re just paying for yourself, you’d fall about 2,000 short of what you need just for your basics: Rent, food and utilities,” says Coon, “There is just no way to make it work.”
When people find themselves in that situation one of the options for them is to join the supplemental nutrition assistance program or SNAP.
Those that are income eligible receive a debit card every month, with a certain amount of money to use anywhere to buy the food they need.
Though the SNAP program is a help to many of those that use it, the program is not be enough to get a user out of their current situation to not need to rely on SNAP.
18% of Americans living in poverty, the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts is doing what they can to lend a helping hand to those in need.