Nonprofits team up for MLK Day drive-through food distribution

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MLK Day grocery bag distribution

Berkshire Bounty, Berkshire United Way and Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires are collaborating to assemble and distribute 1,000 bags of nutritious canned and packaged food throughout Berkshire County to celebrate the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service Monday, Jan. 18. 

Before COVID-19 hit Massachusetts, approximately 12 percent of all people in Berkshire County suffered food insecurity. Over the course of the pandemic, this percentage has grown materially. The sponsoring organizations intend to address that increased need with a substantial amount of food on MLK Day.

“When Berkshire Bounty approached us seeking help to organize volunteers to distribute healthy food, I thought it was the perfect service project for MLK Day. There are people still struggling and others who want to volunteer safely, and we are excited to use our volunteer center to coordinate this effort.” said Candace Winkler, BUW CEO and president.

Financed by Berkshire Bounty, Berkshire Money Management and an anonymous donor, the food distribution will be countywide. Northern Berkshire United Way and Berkshire Community Action Council have identified individuals to receive the food. Guido’s Fresh Marketplace has generously arranged for wholesale pricing and L.P. Adams Co., Inc. has offered their warehouse space for packing and transportation of the 19,000 pounds of food that was purchased.

Distribution will take place 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 18 at the Boys & Girls Club of the Berkshires, 16 Melville St., Pittsfield. During those hours, volunteers will place a bag of food in each car. Volunteers will also deliver food to those who are not able to pick it up themselves. In addition, grocery bags will be provided to Price Memorial AME Zion Church, WIC/CHP, Claire Teague Senior Center and Volunteers in Medicine to distribute bags to their predetermined recipients. 

Grocery bag packing and distribution will take place in a safe, masked and socially distant manner. Sign up to volunteer at www.volunteerberkshireuw.org. For questions, call Brenda Petell, BUW director of volunteer engagement, at 413-212-1431.

“This is a unique collaboration that will hopefully lead to further countywide programs for the benefit of all of Berkshire County’s food insecure population,” said Berkshire Bounty Co-Presidents Mark Lefenfeld and Jay Weintraub. Financial donations for future food distribution efforts are needed and can be made at www.berkshire-bounty.org.

“We plan to get the word out through our many active food pantries, but word of mouth is important too,” added NPC Executive Director Liana Toscanini.

The MLK Day of Service moves these Berkshire organizations closer to Dr. King's vision of a connected community where volunteers can reach their full potential and advance the common good for the county’s residents. Berkshire United Way looks forward to being Here For Good on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and every day