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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:

Jodi Falk jfalk@jewishwesternmass.org 413-733-0084

RACHEL’S TABLE PROGRAM CELEBRATES 30 YEARS OF FILLING THE GAP IN HUNGER ALLEVIATION IN WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS

Food Rescue Program Continues to Expand Upon Existing Initiatives to Serve the Pioneer Valley

SPRINGFIELD, MA September 20, 2022 – Rachel’s Table (RT), a program of the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts (JFWM) celebrates its thirtieth anniversary this month. The program is kicking off its anniversary celebration with The Pamela S. Finer Volunteer Appreciation Evening, a special event to honor its more than 200 volunteers for its dedication to the fight against hunger and continues later in the Fall with the unveiling of its very first refrigerated van to bring even more food to those in need throughout the Pioneer Valley. Later in the Spring, Rachel’s Table will host an anniversary bash to raise funds to continue its work in the fight against hunger. Additional plans and initiatives that will help Rachel’s Table continue to fulfill its mission for the next 30 years are in the works and will be announced later in 2023.

“For the past thirty years, we have pivoted with the changing times, evolved from a charity to a holistic food justice-based model, and mobilized people to bring to life the food rescue with dignity vision that our founders dreamed about,” said Jodi Falk, director of Rachel’s Table. “While we will continue to pivot and evolve to remain relevant to those we serve, delivering food and relieving hunger in a dignified way will never change — we will remain committed to only delivering food that we ourselves would eat, and meeting food gaps in our community.”

“We are very proud of Rachel’s Table’s achievements and look forward to seeing it grow further and continue to help our community thrive,” said Nora Gorenstein, chief executive officer of the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts. “Rachel’s Table has achieved a lot over the past thirty years, and we are excited to be alongside them, cheering and nurturing them as they look forward to the next thirty years.”

Since the program was created, RT has grown by leaps and bounds. It now provides larger quantities of healthy food combined with high-value services such as immediate food rescue, community engagement, and food sustainability programs designed for greater equity and self-determination. It has grown from primarily serving greater Springfield to serving more than fifty organizations in Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties, including those not served by other food access programs. At times, RT is the only program that rescues certain foods, such as food from restaurants or catered food. It also purchases a large and healthy variety of food for distribution and has created community-engagement initiatives like its community on-call gleaning events. It launched Growing Gardens, a food justice and equity initiative where agencies that serve the food insecure can grow their own food in collaboration with their constituents. RT works to support sustainable access to healthy food in ways that amplify a voice and a choice for the diverse, multi-cultural communities it serves.

Throughout this year, RT will be expanding many of its initiatives to feed as many people as possible in the most dignified way possible. These include the following:

  • Providing an even larger volume of food to partner agencies with the arrival of a new refrigerated van starting in the Fall.
  • Working with grocery stores like Inter Produce, wholesalers like C&S, and universities across the Pioneer Valley to provide more high nutritional-value food, and the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts to enhance our meat, dairy, and produce deliveries to partner agencies.
  • Expanding our Growing Gardens cohort criteria to include more diverse partners, including seniors, people with disabilities or without housing, and families in transition.
  • Kicking off another year of our Teen Board program comprised of a dynamic group of diverse teens who will support planning and mapping new directions for RT to focus on food equity and justice work in our community.
  • Expanding support to locally settled refugees while they wait for government services.
  • Expanding Bea’s Harvest to include agency gleaning for constituents to glean for themselves and others and extending community on-call gleaning to encourage more community members to harvest produce for donation throughout the Pioneer Valley.

For thirty years, RT has been filling a large gap in hunger alleviation for a wide and diverse community in Western Massachusetts. The program was created when nine service-minded members of Women’s Philanthropy, a philanthropic program from the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts, decided to meet a local need that would make a real difference in many people’s lives. These women — Judy Ingis, Susanne Osofsky, Myra Gold, Liz Kittredge, Patty Belsky, Linda Skole, Ronnie Leavitt, Nancy Posnick, and Daydie Hochberg – who ultimately became RT’s steering committee went to Worcester on September 16, 1992 to learn about the original Rachel’s Table program and came back determined that if there was food in Western Massachusetts going to landfill while people were going hungry, then they were going to start a food rescue program, a cutting-edge idea at the time, in Springfield.
To learn more about how Rachel’s Table meets the food gap in the Pioneer Valley, make a donation, or volunteer visit www.rachelstablepv.org.

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