Two people hand's passing food to each other

Supporting Food Insecurity In The Valley

Since the start of the new year, Florence Bank has continued their efforts to support food insecurity within the region. In 2021, donations totaling $40,000 have raised their overall giving in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to $140,000.

As restrictions are starting to lift, President and CEO Kevin R. Day reiterates the bank’s commitment to the cause, stating a return to pre-pandemic economics in the region is likely not imminent.
“People have been impacted significantly. Their jobs haven’t returned. They’re not making ends meet, and they need food,” Day said. “We’re here to assist in providing that support for the needs of the Valley.”
Throughout the entire pandemic, Florence Bank has granted donations to numerous organizations across the area, which include:

  • Nearly $100,000 in 2020 to the:
    • Community Food Distribution Project
    • Grow Food Northampton
    • Northampton Survival Center
    • Lorraine’s Soup Kitchen & Pantry in Chicopee.
  • $5,000 to the Chesterfield Community Cupboard, its second donation to that organization since the pandemic began.
  • $20,000 to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts to support its Brown Bag: Food for Elders Program.
  • $10,000 to Grow Food Northampton, also a second gift, to support the Community Food Distribution Project created last year for emergency food distribution.
  • $5,000 gift for Manna Community Kitchen.
The consideration of gifts to support food insecurity is an ongoing item on the Florence Bank Board of Director’s meeting agenda.

John Ebbets, chair of the 11-member board and a member for nearly a decade, said the bank prioritizes supporting access to food as a basic human need.

“There is no hesitation whatsoever,” said Ebbets. “Florence Bank has consistently been a major player in supporting the community.”

As the former executive director of United Way of Hampshire County from 2015 to 2019, Ebbets understands the community need, and he feels grateful to be able to sit on the bank board and indirectly provide assistance. “It feels good,” he said.

Ebbets reiterated that the board will continue to look ahead. “Not everybody will emerge from the pandemic at the same time. The projection is that there could continue to be a significant need; food insecurity does not go away. It is a continuing cycle and an ongoing challenge.”