Big Y Expands Legacy of Helping Farmers and Small Businesses
SPRINGFIELD — In 1936, Paul and Gerry D’Amour were passionate about providing fresh local food to their customers at the Y Cash Market in Chicopee. Today, close to 85 years after its founding, Big Y World Class Markets have more than 500 partnerships with local farmers like Meadowbrook Farms and local food producers like Millie’s Pierogi. The passion of its founders continues with Big Y announcing the Fresh & Local Distribution Center name and logo.
“One of my earliest memories was going around with my uncle to the farms in the summer months and buying peppers and tomatoes and corn,” said Charlie D’Amour, president and CEO of Big Y (see video here). “You could just feel the camaraderie and the connection. I’m proud to say that that connection is still with us today.”
Big Y’s Fresh & Local Distribution Center provides local farmers and food producers with an efficient, one-stop location that saves them the time and cost of delivering to individual stores. It also features state-of-the-art technology and temperature controls to help Big Y maintain and deliver food at the peak of freshness to customers. Corn picked in the fields in the morning can be in Big Y stores by the afternoon. Big Y supplies each of its stores with fresh fish six days a week. Fish may have been swimming in the ocean one day and be in stores by the next morning.
Currently, through Big Y’s Fresh & Local Distribution Center, 70 farmers — accounting for more than 9,000 acres of farmland in the region — supply Big Y’s stores in Massachusetts and Connecticut with 1,200 types of native fruits and vegetables each year. For many farmers, this partnership helps them grow their business and preserve farmland and open space in area communities.
“Big Y has been so instrumental in the local community,” said John Burney of Meadowbrook Farm in East Longmeadow. “They have enabled me to continue to grow my business and put 99% of my profits back into the farm to keep providing customers with locally grown produce.”
More that 3,000 different products from local food producers can be found at a typical Big Y supermarket. Big Y actively searches for new craft-food artisans to bring into their stores and can provide them with support for marketing and packaging, help with barcodes, or even advice on business matters like insurance. “It gives us great pride and honor to be able to help these young businesses, these young farmers, these young producers, to grow their business and become successful,” said D’Amour. “That’s part of the role we can play in the community. I would encourage folks out there who want to explore an opportunity to work with us to contact us through bigy.com.”
The new Fresh & Local Distribution center has close to 425,000 square feet of space and operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is located adjacent to Big Y headquarters at 2145 Roosevelt Ave. in Springfield.