North Adams- State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield) and State Representative Daniel E. Bosley (D-North Adams) announce today that Project Bread has awarded the North Adams-based Berkshire Food Project a $9,500 staffing grant dedicated to food stamp outreach and application assistance.
“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 quality food on the table. This funding will help identify those in need of assistance who otherwise might not realize they’re eligible.”
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.
Representative Bosley said, “As winter approaches, families should never be forced to make a choice between food and heat. The Berkshire Food Project serves as a strong link in the line of defense against hunger. This grant from Project Bread is well deserved and critical for the Berkshire Food Project to continue its mission to serve the people of the Berkshires.”
Valerie Schwarz, Project Manager for Berkshire Food Project expressed the significance of this funding by saying, “The Project Bread outreach and assistance funding we receive helps us to provide online food stamp applications to those who cannot easily access their local Department of Transitional Assistance office. It’s also worth mentioning that we are able to provide online food stamp assistance to the elderly, many of whom never knew they were eligible for food stamp benefits.”
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.
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.