Food Bank of Western Massachusetts moving to Chicopee
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Meals Financial institution of Western Massachusetts shifting to Chicopee

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HATFIELD — The Meals Financial institution of Western Massachusetts can be shifting from its longtime headquarters in Hatfield to a brand new location in Chicopee.

The Meals Financial institution in December acquired 16.5 acres of vacant land on the Chicopee River Enterprise Park, on the nook of East Essential and Carew streets, from Westmass Space Improvement Corp., for $449,235, with the intent to maneuver to a newly constructed constructing there within the subsequent yr or two following a capital marketing campaign. The nonprofit group serves Hamsphire, Hampden, Franklin and Berkshire counties.

Government Director Andrew Morehouse stated Wednesday that the acquisition is the results of a strategic plan developed a few years in the past, with Meals Financial institution officers understanding for a very long time that area was operating out on the 30,000-square-foot constructing, 2 1/2-acre web site at 97 North Hatfield Street the place it has been situated since 1987.

“We intend to construct a state-of-the-art warehouse to satisfy our dedication to the area’s meals help for many years to return,” Morehouse stated.

Not solely will a brand new constructing imply most storage capability potential, however it will likely be power environment friendly and make the most of inexperienced know-how, Morehouse stated. The constructing may also be located close to the intersection of three main highways, Interstate 91 and 291 and the Massachusetts Turnpike, in addition to being near the biggest inhabitants middle within the 4 counties, which has the best focus of households susceptible to starvation and meals insecurity.

Through the pandemic, Morehouse stated there was a major improve in want. The Meals Financial institution was serving 89,000 individuals per 30 days previous to March 2020, and in October served 119,000 individuals. Over the previous yr, the Meals Financial institution estimates that it distributed the equal of roughly 12.four million meals via 165 impartial native meals pantries, meal websites and shelters, in addition to its personal 78 direct-to-patron Brown Bag: Meals for Elders and Cell Meals Financial institution websites.

Hatfield Choose Board Chairwoman Diana Szynal stated officers and residents have lengthy been supportive of the Meals Financial institution’s mission to combat starvation within the area.

“Total I’m glad the Meals Financial institution can be making a change that they really feel will transfer them ahead,” Szynal stated.

However she additionally known as it “unhappy information” for the city.

“In my capability on the Choose Board, I wish to brag that group is in our city,” Szynal stated. “I’m impressed at their work and the partnership with our farms. Hatfield’s the proper house for the Meals Financial institution as a result of we now have so many nice farms close by.”

Based in 1982, the Meals Financial institution moved to Hatfield 5 years later from a Hadley barn and have expanded its warehouse, most not too long ago in 2005 after a $three million capital marketing campaign.

However the constructing is now insufficient, with meals saved within the aisles and on refrigerated trailers parked completely at loading docks, in addition to off web site at Pioneer Chilly in Chicopee and Lineage Logistics in Westfield. Morehouse stated {that a} yr in the past the Meals Financial institution executed a purchase order and sale on a constructing in Springfield which later fell via.

“Our warehouse employees has overcome large obstacles to maintain up with demand throughout the pandemic, working lengthy hours and discovering inventive methods to get the meals out to those that want it,” Shirley DelRio, director of Meals Operations, stated in a press release.

Meals Financial institution Board President Erica Flores added that the Meals Financial institution is at the moment working with a number of people and native corporations with business actual property improvement experience, together with The Dennis Group and O’Connell Improvement.

“The Meals Financial institution will announce within the coming months the formal launch of a multi-million capital marketing campaign in assist of this undertaking to raised serve our member meals pantries and people in want of meals help throughout western Massachusetts,” Flores stated.

Jeff Daley President & CEO of Westmass stated the Meals Financial institution can be an incredible addition to the enterprise park.

“They’re such an necessary a part of our neighborhood and to have them centrally situated to the inhabitants they serve, is a testomony to their board of administrators and administration crew,” Daley stated in a press release.

Regardless of shifting south, a dedication stays to each neighborhood within the 4 westernmost counties, the farmers who provide meals and the administration of two Meals Financial institution Farms in Hadley, Morehouse stated. As soon as it strikes, the Meals Financial institution will promote its present property in Hatfield.

Szynal stated Hatfield will attempt to make the most effective of the state of affairs when that occurs.

“I have a look at this as a chance for an additional enterprise group to occupy that area,” Szynal stated.

Scott Merzbach might be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.