Springfield, MA – In just three months, COVID-19 drove unemployment rates higher than at any point during the two years of the Great Recession*. Millions of Americans have and continue to struggle with health, social and economic impacts. In 2020, more than 54 million Americans may face hunger because of coronavirus. In Massachusetts, more than 600 thousand people are currently fighting hunger, a number on the rise due to COVID-19.
As part of an effort to feed those families in need, a host of Massachusetts organizations have come together to send fluid milk to Western Massachusetts agencies and nonprofits.
New England Dairy and the dairy farmers of the region saw an opportunity to work with partners on priorities identified by the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts through their COVID-19 Response Fund. New England Dairy was eager to connect with Rachel’s Table who applied for and received a $25,000 grant from the COVID-19 Response Fund for the Pioneer Valley from the Community Foundation, made possible by the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund.
Members of New England Dairy have worked with those of Rachel’s Table to identify Mapleline Farm in Hadley Massachusetts, as the participating processor and supplier of the milk. Starting August 17th, distribution of the milk will begin in Hampden County, followed by other distributions in Hampshire and Franklin Counties. About 1,120 gallons of milk will be provided to families in Western Massachusetts thanks to this effort.
A $10,000 portion of the grant received by Rachel’s Table is being used to make a bulk purchase of milk, representing the 1,120 gallons mentioned above. Mapleline Farm was established in 1904 by the Kokoski family. They have a herd of 200 jersey cows and process and bottle their milk right on the farm.
“We feel fortunate to help distribute nutritious milk to so many of our agencies. We truly are in this together and creating this partnership to make sure families can receive rich farm-fresh milk has been one of the silver linings of this pandemic. We are grateful to all who came together for the good of many,” stated Jodi Falk, Director of Rachel’s Table.
Thirty-Eight percent of Massachusetts residents reported experiencing food insecurity in March alone**. Dairy can play a critical role in addressing these nutritional needs. Milk provides a unique package of 9 essential nutrients including calcium, potassium and Vitamin D – a nutritional powerhouse for individuals, families and children in need.
“Our family and farm employees are deeply rooted in this community and it brings us great pride and joy to have the opportunity to provide our milk to families at a challenging time,” stated Jessica Dizek, Co-Owner, Mapleline Farm. “We are grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this partnership and hope our milk not only fills a family’s nutritional needs but that they simply enjoy it.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has put tremendous pressure on individuals, families and communities throughout New England. Local dairy farmers are proud to support those in need, and we, as New England Dairy are honored to work with and bring together such dedicated partners to serve Western Massachusetts and beyond,” described Annalise Kieley, Farmer Relations Specialist, New England Dairy.
Since March, the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts has distributed more than $6.3 million to Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire County nonprofit organizations fighting to survive themselves, and aid in the efforts of overcoming the impacts of the coronavirus.
Rachel’s Table, a program of the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts, aims to alleviate hunger and reduce the waste of food resources in the Pioneer Valley. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Rachel’s Table has added Emergency Food programs to supply 53 agencies within the Pioneer Valley with nutritious meat, produce and with this partnership, milk.
For New England Dairy, bringing partners together to purchase and distribute milk and nutritious dairy products to those in need meets the urgent need of feeding families while supporting dairy farmers. Dairy farms are the lifeblood of many communities throughout New England, creating jobs, investing in the local economy, and supporting childhood health and education.
* – From PewResearch.org
** – From Projectbread.org/get-the-facts
About New England Dairy
New England Dairy’s mission is to champion the region’s farm families and the nutritious foods they produce. The non-profit organization does this by sharing the New England dairy story, connecting people to dairy farms, supporting youth wellness in schools and delivering the latest nutrition and sustainability science to health professionals, scientists, media, nutrition professionals and educators.
About Rachel’s Table:
Rachel’s Table is the food rescue program of the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts. Its mission is to alleviate hunger and to reduce waste of our food resources in Western Massachusetts
About Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts:
The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts is a catalyst for positive change in Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire counties; engaging partners, raising flexible endowment, leveraging resources to solve problems and contribute to the common good. The Foundation established the COVID-19 Response Fund for the Pioneer Valley in March to support community nonprofit organizations serving the needs of the most vulnerable populations affected by the pandemic in Western Massachusetts. Over 650 donors have contributed to the fund to date.
The COVID-19 Response Fund for the Pioneer Valley was established to provide grants to community nonprofit organizations serving the needs of the most vulnerable populations affected by the pandemic in Western Massachusetts.
About the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund