Western Mass. fights hunger through advocacy training

SPRINGFIELD Mass. (WWLP) –  In the fight against hunger, the food bank of Western Massachusetts is making sure no one is left hungry.

The agency held its annual advocacy training at St. John’s Congregational Church in Springfield Monday to make sure low income families don’t go without food.

Local Food Banks want to develop solutions to help families live healthy and hunger-free lives. The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts gathered it’s partner agencies, to provide the resources and tools they need to engage their clients.

“It’s like a civic’s class,” said Laura Sylvester from the Food Bank of Western Mass. “You learn how government works on the state and local level and how they can interact with their legislators.”

Among the participants at the training were local food pantry agencies that want to better educate lawmakers about hunger. One topic of discussion was the Massachusetts Emergency Food Assistance Program (MEFAP), which provided nearly 300 tons of fresh food from local farmers in 2017.

The Freedom House Pantry was one agency in attendance, which serves nearly 100 people a month who are in need of food.

“A lot of people need help and they don’t have enough to make their stretch so that’s where we come in,” said Steven Williams, Freedom House Pantry Director said.

The Food Bank and other agencies plan to develop a community-focused advocacy campaign for our state lawmakers.

Local Representatives told 22News there needs to be more legislation, especially since 150,000 eligible children are currently not receiving free or reduced price breakfast in schools.