CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Construction has officially begun at the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts’ new facility in Chicopee.

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts is just on the cusp of their goal of $26.4 million. The funding for the new building comes from state and federal funds as well as private donations, and it comes at an important time.

“We actually had to turn over a million pounds of donated food away over the last three years because there wasn’t any place to put it,” said Andrew Morehouse, Executive Director of the Food Bank.

The new building in Chicopee will be twice the size of the old one, serving more people in the fight to end hunger.

“We want to be able to receive as much as we can and get it out as many people as we can. Heathy food whenever they need it now, tomorrow, next year… for decades to come,” said Morehouse.

In Hampden County, the food bank served more than 180,000 people in fiscal year 2021. Almost a third of that food was fresh fruit and vegetables. Food insecurity is an issue that impacts many but few talk about.

Chicopee Mayor John Vieau said he experienced food insecurity growing up in Willimansett. “When your father’s out of work and goes to the pantry and brings home the box with the government cheese and peanut butter, and it’s literally a celebration in your house. It’s something that I remember and it’s a reality for many people,” said Vieau.

They’re still looking to raise that last roughly $1 million for the new location.