From 1:30-2:30 pm on the third Wednesday of each month, the parking lot of the Gill-Montague Senior Center at 62 5th Street is transformed into a pop-up food market where everyone is welcome and everything is free! Thanks to a collaboration between the Gill-Montague Council on Aging, the Franklin County Community Meals Program, and a crew of volunteers organized by Kim Malcolm of Northfield Mount Hermon School, The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts’ Mobile Food Bank program now makes a monthly appearance in downtown Turners Falls. I visited last month and here’s what I learned:
- There are no eligibility requirements, and you don’t have to provide any personally identifying information. When I arrived, I was greeted by a friendly person with a clipboard who asked me a few questions about my previous experience with food pantries and the number of people in my household. Then I went around to tables that were set up in the parking lot and filled up a shopping bag with free, healthy food!
- You can choose what you take and there’s lots to choose from. In September when I visited, volunteers at the tables offered me many types of fresh vegetables, plus dairy and dairy-alternative products, and let me select what I wanted from a huge bin full of packaged frozen meat. At the last table, I found recipes that featured many of the ingredients in my bag.
- There is enough food for everyone to fill a bag. I worried a little about taking food that someone else might need, but Kim Malcolm explained to me that the Food Bank sends enough to fill 250 bags each month. So far the Mobile Food Bank in Turners Falls has been serving about 90 people a month, and they would be happy to see that number go up!
- Volunteers make Mobile Food Banks possible. Kim needs at least a dozen people to help each month, and more would be great. Volunteers need to be at least sixteen years old and to be at the site from 1-3pm to help set up and clean up. Volunteers can take a bag of food home, too! If you are interested in volunteering for the Mobile Food Bank in Turners Falls, please contact Kim by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Mobile Food Bank has a monthly distribution in Greenfield as well. That one is at Oak Courts on the 2nd Wednesday of each month, also from 1:30-2:30. You can go to both! To learn more or to volunteer for that one, contact Bekki Craig, the Resident Services Coordinator by calling 413-475-3621.
Want to learn more about resources our community has for increasing access to food and ending hunger? Check out this resource page.