The process for serving people through the mobile food bank requires plenty of volunteers and a safety protocols.

Western Mass Mobile Food Bank Serves Through Pandemic

By Jack Guerino
iBerkshires Staff
01:03AM / Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Huge boxes of squash arrive at the Visitors Center for distribution.
ADAMS, Mass. — Rain or shine, volunteers have continued to distribute food from the mobile food bank throughout the pandemic. 
Not even a rainy day can stop the mobile food bank and Tuesday volunteers were out in full force making hundreds of deliveries.
"You can see that people need this," volunteer Karen Daigle said. "There is a joy to helping people and being part of this community. It is important to give back."
The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts' Mobile Food Bank visits the Adams Council on Aging every second and fourth Tuesday of the month. The program reaches underserved populations throughout Western Massachusetts who don't have access to healthy foods.
Before COVID-19, people would line up, grab a bag of food, and be off but now the operation is far more complex. Cars park in the Visitors Center's parking lot or the Waverly Mill parking lot and a volunteer delivers a bag of food.
"We do both parking lots," volunteer Greg Lucia said. "We have crews. One does this parking lot and one goes the other way. When that empties out we all come up here and try to finish it off." 
Council on Aging Director Erica Girgenti said this limits contact and the congregation of large crowds but takes a bit more manpower. She said before the pandemic, only a group of 10 or so volunteers would be needed. Now they need about 30.
Girgenti said the Council on Aging has about 40 volunteers on file and, on Tuesday, 35 were on-site in rain gear ready to deliver food to the hundred or so cars in the queue.
"COVID-19 changed the way we did things," she said. "... It was overwhelming we had to turn down some volunteers because we can't have so many people that we are on top of each other."
In the past, the COA has served more than 350 households on a single day, and Girgenti said Tuesday looked to be ramping up quickly by 10 a.m.
Daigle lauded the organization of the food drop off and noted that it not only ran like a well-oiled machine but was safe.
Lucia agreed and said Adams has a history of stepping up to help the community.
"There are so many people out of work right now, and the little bit of food we do give does help," he said. "Adams has always been a great community for helping. You just put the word out and people step right up."


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