SPRINGFIELD — The Gray House, a nonprofit organization in the North End of Springfield, is kicking off its third annual Fill the Plate, Feed a Family Challenge, an online fund-raising initiative set to run from Friday, Sept. 1 through Saturday, Sept. 30.
The organization has set a goal of raising $20,000 for the month of September and is asking the community to help them reach this goal. All proceeds will directly support its food-pantry operations, which serve an average of 80 to 120 households each week.
This year, the initiative has expanded to include additional events. The efforts will kick off at Hot Table at Tower Square in Springfield on Wednesday, Sept. 6, where 20% of proceeds from breakfast, lunch, and dinner sales will benefit the Gray House. Patrons must present the cashier with a fund-raising flyer, which can be found at grayhouse.org.
Mayor Domenic Sarno will be present at noon to make his annual donation in support of the Gray House Food Pantry. “Fill the Plate will continue to nourish great programs at the Gray House,” he said. “It will be your comfort food donation!”
Throughout the month, participants are asked to donate through razoo.com/ftp; post a photo of themselves with an empty plate, hashtag it #FillThePlate, and link to the donation page on social media; and tag the Gray House and any friends they want to encourage to donate.
In addition to raising funds, the goal of the fund-raiser is to raise awareness of the prevalence of food insecurity in the community.
“The empty plate represents all of those neighbors who would go hungry without groceries from our food pantry,” said Teresa Spaziani-Liberti, executive director at the Gray House. “In the past several months, we’ve seen a huge increase in need for food in our community, and we’re dedicated to meeting that need, but need the community’s support to do so. We encourage donors to post photos on social media and share with their networks so that we can reach an even greater number of people.”
She added, “monetary donations to our Food Pantry go a long way in feeding our neighbors. As a member of the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, we can significantly leverage donations to obtain food.”
In 2017, the Gray House Food Pantry has made much progress in meeting the needs of its neighbors. This includes increasing the number of times households can receive food within a year; increasing the variety of healthy foods, including meat and produce; building new partnerships with local grocery stores and farmers; and hiring a pantry director, Benjamin Holt, to manage the operations and plan for future growth.