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SPRINGFIELD — Rachel’s Table, (RT), the food rescue and redistribution program of the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts, and the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts (FBWM), are joining forces to fight hunger.

Rachel’s Table, with its 200 volunteer drivers, will transport the food directly from designated grocery stores to the FBWM agencies, filling the gap where agencies lacked transportation or when its volunteers were needed elsewhere.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts to help deliver food to agencies, especially for those who need our transportation,” said Jodi Falk, director of Rachel’s Table. “Transporting healthy food to people instead of it going into landfill is what we have been doing for almost 30 years and being able to use our operations to better serve our neighbors in the Pioneer Valley is a win for everyone. It is the epitome of partnership to fill gaps and support each other’s good work.”

Rachel’s Table’s partnership with The Food Bank began pre-pandemic in Westfield, and has become revitalized during the past several months. Together, RT and The Food Bank are serving seven agencies, with 13 RT volunteer drivers that rescue nutritious food from eight donors in Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin Counties. Starting slowly but deliberately, more than 15,000 lbs. of healthy meat, produce and dairy have been delivered since the program began, and there is more to come.

“Our teams (RT and FBWM) met together, it was clear that our services were complementary, and working together, we would positively impact the communities we serve.” said Shirley DelRio, director of Food Operations at the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.

Currently using volunteer cars, the RT- Food Bank Partnership drivers are servsafe-trained and use freezer blankets and infrared thermometers to ensure food deliveries remain safe. RT was the recipient of a $7,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts that helped purchase 100 blankets and thermometers for this task.

People interested in driving for Rachel’s Table, or who know of food from a local restaurant, bakery or grocery store that is going to waste, please contact Rachel’s Table at www.rachelstablepv.org.

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