The Recorder - Food Bank of Western Massachusetts moving to Chicopee
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The Recorder – Meals Financial institution of Western Massachusetts transferring to Chicopee

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Printed: 1/8/2021 3:27:58 PM

Modified: 1/8/2021 3:27:43 PM

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

The meals financial institution acquired 16.5 acres of vacant land on the Chicopee River Enterprise Park, on the nook of East Fundamental and Carew streets, from Westmass Space Growth Company, for $449,235 in December, with the intent to maneuver to a newly constructed constructing there within the subsequent 12 months or two following a capital marketing campaign. The nonprofit serves Hamsphire, Hampden, Franklin and Berkshire counties.

Government Director Andrew Morehouse mentioned Wednesday that the acquisition is the results of a strategic plan developed a few years in the past, with Meals Financial institution of Western Massachusetts officers understanding for a very long time that house was working out on the 30,000-square-foot constructing, 2½-acre website 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,” he mentioned.

Not solely will a brand new constructing imply most storage capability potential, however it will likely be vitality environment friendly and use inexperienced expertise, Morehouse mentioned. The constructing can even 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 heart within the 4 counties, which has the best focus of households susceptible to starvation and meals insecurity.

Through the pandemic, Morehouse mentioned there was a big improve in want. The meals financial institution was serving 89,000 individuals monthly previous to March 2020, and in October served 119,000 individuals. Over the previous 12 months, the meals financial institution estimates it distributed the equal of roughly 12.four million meals by way of 165 unbiased native meals pantries, meal websites and shelters, in addition to by way of its personal 78 direct-to-patron Brown Bag: Meals for Elders and Cellular Meals Financial institution websites.

Based in 1982 in a Hadley barn, the Meals Financial institution of Western Massachusetts moved to Hatfield 5 years later and has since expanded its warehouse, most lately in 2005 following 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 website at Pioneer Chilly in Chicopee and Lineage Logistics in Westfield. Morehouse mentioned {that a} 12 months in the past the meals financial institution executed a purchase order and sale settlement on a constructing in Springfield that later fell by way of.

“Our warehouse employees has overcome large obstacles to maintain up with demand through the pandemic, working lengthy hours and discovering artistic methods to get the meals out to those that want it,” Shirley DelRio, director of Meals Operations, mentioned in an announcement.

Erica Flores, president of the Meals Financial institution of Western Massachusetts’ board of administrators, added that the meals financial institution is at present working with a number of people and native firms with industrial actual property improvement experience, together with The Dennis Group and O’Connell Growth.

“The meals financial institution will announce within the coming months the formal launch of a multi-million capital marketing campaign in help of this undertaking to raised serve our member meals pantries and people in want of meals help throughout Western Massachusetts,” she mentioned.

Jeff Daley, president and CEO of Westmass Space Growth Company, mentioned the meals financial institution will likely be an incredible addition to the enterprise park.

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

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

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