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There’s no shortage of uncertainty these days as people everywhere are practicing social distancing and placing themselves and families under quarantine to avoid spreading COVID-19. Grocery store shelves are emptying faster than clerks can stock them with food, sanitary products and other health and wellness necessities. Those fortunate enough to have the resources to stock up in order to hunker down at home might be experiencing inconvenient interruptions to their daily routines, but for some more vulnerable community members, this is a real crisis.
It’s important to remember that food insecurity, poor access to housing, and an inadequate health care system have left many families in the Valley scrambling for basic necessities like food, diapers, common medications and a warm bed to sleep in. Fortunately, a number of area community service organizations are working overtime serving the most vulnerable members of our community.
Over the past few years, Northeast Solar has been working with two locals, Brian Adams and Morey Phippen, to give free solar PV systems to some of the most effective local nonprofits working in Western Massachusetts. The idea was that solar power would offset their electrical costs, thus freeing up funds to pump back into the community. Those extra funds are coming really handy right now, but they still need your help.
The Northampton Survival Center:
The Northampton Survival Center is a food distribution center that has been serving the community since 1979. COVID-19 has not stopped them from serving food insecure families, but they have had to move distribution outside and have established working protocols to avoid sharing the Coronavirus.
Their website says, “We remain committed to staying open and distributing as much food as we can so that clients have the food security they need as they minimize their activities.”
Heidi Nortonsmith, the center's director said in an email, “At this point we remain open and we’re seeing a surge in client demand. Food is flying off the shelves.”
The Survival Center is welcoming monetary donations (look for the orange “donate now” button at the top right of their page).
More info can be found on their website.
The Amherst Survival Center:
As of 3/19, the Amherst Survival Center’s website said, “We continue to adapt our operations to ensure continued food delivery in as safe a manner as possible and within the confines of our more limited volunteer capacity. We are open. We have food. We are here to help.”
In an email, Executive Director, Lev Ben-Ezra, shared the following:
A statement on their website said, “We have extensive sanitation processes in place. All volunteers wash their hands upon entry of the building. Safe food handling practices are being strictly adhered to. Volunteers are working with appropriate 6 foot distances between volunteers. The above changes in our operations help ensure all guests and volunteers maintain the minimum 6 feet of separation.”
Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) has been working to strengthen farms and engage the community to build the local food economy for 25 years.
According to their COVID-19 response, “We’ve been hearing from farmers and other local business owners about how the coronavirus epidemic is interrupting sales, bringing worry about how that will affect their businesses, and causing concern about how to keep customers and employees healthy and supported.”
CISA has been a vital part of the local agricultural and food economy and are still working on way to support the food industries that sustain us all.
“This is a crisis that invites us to consider the needs of our neighbors and our communities as a whole. Social distancing, the cancellation of public events, and institutions and workplaces going remote are acts of community solidarity that protect the most vulnerable members of society, many of whom are not able to take self-protective measures themselves. In that spirit, and if you are able, consider how you can approach this crisis with a spirit of generosity and community benefit.”
CISA published a list of things you can do to help:
Just Roots Farm:
Just Roots is a nonprofit community organization located in Greenfield that started in 2008 with the goal of growing food on municipal land. Today they have a beautiful farm on Leyden Road and grow food that supports the community.
They outlined their action plan in an email earlier this week saying, “Just Roots is doing what we can to look ahead at the impact all of this will have on our neighbors who may need food, resources and support now and in the coming days, weeks, or months. As always, we strive to do our best to care for each other through the work we do; connecting you to food and resources.”
In the email, Just Roots said the farm and staff are implementing the following responses to the current situation:
Just Roots staff is being meticulous in following all hygienic guidelines as suggested by the CDC. Many of us are working from home. And all of us are washing hands and wearing gloves (and masks as needed) when handling any of your produce.