Construction begins for Food Bank’s new Chicopee location
CHICOPEE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Construction for the new Food Bank of Western Massachusetts officially kicked off on Thursday. It’s a project that had faced pushback from some area residents.
“This is going to be the hub of food security for western Mass. and points beyond,” said Chicopee Mayor John Vieau.
The food bank is moving its headquarters from Hatfield to the city of Chicopee in an effort to expand after more than one million pounds of food donations had to be turned away due to a lack of storage over the past three and a half years.
“Food donations like the ones just mentioned will be able to make sure they get to where they need to go,” Vieau added.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic followed by inflation causing food prices to sky rocket, the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts is seeing an increase in demand.
“That really increased the need for food assistance in our region and that problem has just gotten larger...This could not have come at a better time,” said one woman at Thursday’s ceremony
This new center will double the organizations warehouse capacity and its ability to accept and distribute food.
Nearly a dozen state and local leaders came out to support Thursday’s groundbreaking at the Chicopee River Business Park including Vieau, who shared a personal connection to the project.
“When your father is out of work and goes to the pantry and brings home a box for government cheese and a peanut butter and it is literally a celebration in your house, it is something that I remember and it’s a reality for many people who live paycheck to paycheck,” Vieau explained.
The property, which was purchased in 2020, was met with pushback from some local residents concerned over an increase in traffic flow to the area, but Congressman Richard Neal, who helped spearhead the new facility, told Western Mass News that food security is a crucial issue that needs to be addressed and this food bank will be one step in the right direction.
“There is still a stubborn problem of skill alignment, in getting people into the right places in life, so they might not need, in certain circumstances, to depend on the food bank, but also to understand for those who do need it accessibility is really important and Chicopee is a great place and community,” Neal said.
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