North Adams- State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield) and State Representative Daniel E. Bosley (D-North Adams) today announce that Project Bread has awarded the North Adams-based Berkshire Food Project with a $15,600 staffing grant dedicated to food stamp application assistance and outreach.
“Having access to nutritious food is key to maintaining good health,” stated Downing. “With the help of Project Bread and community-based programs like Berkshire Food Program, people struggling to make ends meet can quickly get the help they need to put food on the table.”
Since 1987, Berkshire Food Project has been helping vulnerable residents of Northern Berkshire County to access nutritious food through their free hot lunch program and by providing referrals to other community and state-run agencies. Staffed mainly by volunteers, and one paid employee, Berkshire Food Project serves approximately 100 clients and 15,000 free meals per year and growing. Recently, the organization went from providing three meals per week, to providing five.
“The food stamp program has helped so many people and so many families. There is a great need in North Berkshire, where so many people don’t know they are eligible for food stamps, or they don’t know how to apply,” said Representative Bosley. “We welcome these added funds to allow us to reach even more people who can benefit from food stamps.”
Valerie Schwarz, Project Manager for Berkshire Food Project expressed her gratitude for this funding by saying, “The money that we receive from Project Bread is a tremendous asset to what we already do here.” This past January, the organization took on the task of helping their clients apply for and receive food stamps, “It’s a piece of our work that simply meshes with our mission to provide those who are food insecure with food stamp applications right in our office.”
This grant, in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA), allows staff at the Berkshire Food Project to provide application assistance to clients using the state’s Virtual Gateway online food stamp application. The goal of the initiative is to increase enrollment in the Food Stamp Program by providing eligible applicants a convenient, supportive and secure way to apply online.
Project Bread’s grant is also part of an initiative to leverage additional federal funding into low-income communities by increasing participation in federally reimbursed food programs. These additional resources will help deliver food to our most vulnerable populations.
If you would like to learn more about available resources at Berkshire Food Project, call (413) 664-7378, or tune-in to their local cable access television show “Food For Thought” on the Northern Berkshire Community Television Corporation station.
For additional information about Project Bread grant and donation opportunities, please visit www.projectbread.org or call (617) 723-5000.