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Local Businesses’ ‘Canned-do’ Approach Helps Stock Food-pantry Shelves

GREENFIELD — Food-supply shortages are impacting local food pantry shelves, but Greenfield Cooperative Bank President Tony Worden and Merrill Gagne, founder of Gagne Wealth Management in Greenfield, are working to change that.

Jodi Falk, director of Rachel’s Table, a food-rescue program of the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts, initially contacted Worden and Gagne to help purchase meat to stock local pantry fridges. As a result of their generosity, Rachel’s Table purchased 708 pounds of chicken, ground beef, and pork for local pantries to distribute over the holiday season.

In addition, Greenfield Cooperative Bank and Rachel’s Table partnered to create a non-perishable food drive to help the Franklin County Community Meals Program, Community Action’s Center for Self-Reliance, Salvation Army Greenfield, and the Stone Soup Café’s Free Store. The Franklin County YMCA joined the team, and the Franklin County community-wide “canned-do” food drive was born.

“Several factors are at work here,” Falk said. “One, hunger in Massachusetts is double what it was pre-pandemic, moving from 8.2% to 16.4%. Two, inflation makes purchasing food challenging for people as well as agencies. And three, there are some supply-chain issues that have made the typical avenues where agencies get food a little more complicated. Tony and Merrill stepping up so generously, and also encouraging their businesses to help out, especially before the holidays, makes a huge difference to our community.”

Now, Falk and Jessye Deane, executive director of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, are calling on other Franklin County businesses and organizations to join the effort.

“The need is great, but our generosity is greater,” Deane said. “The collaboration between businesses and nonprofits is so uniquely Franklin County. When there’s a need, we all come together to meet it. The responsiveness of Gagne Wealth Management, Greenfield Cooperative Bank, and Rachel’s Table represents the best of Franklin County.”

Rachel’s Table is making it easy for others to get involved by providing boxes (if needed) and offering donation pickup and delivery. A wish list of non-perishable items can be found at www.franklincc.org and www.rachelstablepv.org.

Organizations interested in helping or hosting their own food drive can contact Jay Levine at Rachel’s Table at (413) 733-0084, ext. 251. Individuals can drop off donated goods at the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce offices at 79 Old Main St. in Deerfield.

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