WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The City of Westfield announced $500,000 in funding was awarded to assist moderate-income residents to afford basic grocery and home heating needs.

Mayor Michael McCabe’s Office says the funding provided by the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) will support food insecurity and heating assistance programs.

Westfield Fuel Assistance Program

A total of $300,000 has been contracted with The Valley Opportunity Council, Inc. to provide additional households the opportunity to access home heating assistance programs. To apply for fuel assistance visit valleyopp.com, call the Valley Opportunity Council at 413-534-2466, or email Jessica at jking@valleyopp.com.

“We are really excited about this additional project and have already reached out to a few Westfield households that would qualify for this funding,” Jessica King, Director of Homeless and Supportive Services said. “Residents were very happy to hear that the city was not only helping their residents with rental and mortgage assistance but has taken it a step further to support the strain Westfield residents are battling with their utility bills as well,” she added.

Food insecurity needs in Westfield

A total of $200,000 payable over the next four years has been supplied to The Greater Westfield Food Pantry to assist in food security programs for residents. For those in need of food assistance, call the Westfield Food Pantry located at 101 Meadow St. at 413-572-0802 or visit their website at westfieldfoodpantry.org.

“All of us have faced the astronomical increase in grocery bills and heating bills over the past few months,” Mayor Michael McCabe said. “The primary legislative intent of ARPA is to ensure that the most basic needs of both local government and the residents we represent are provided with adequate resources to withstand increased costs brought on by economic uncertainty and the pandemic,” he continued. “These two programs have been pursued because they have a direct impact on populations who are least able to absorb inflation in these most basic human needs,” he concluded.

Massachusetts families will lose the extra COVID SNAP temporary benefits that were available through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Emergency Allotments at the end of February. Households will receive their last extra payment on March 2nd.

At around 1,200 people a month are provided groceries from the Westfield Food Pantry. From 2019 to 2020 there was a 17% increase in SNAP clients for Westfield, according to the City. The Food Pantry is mostly supported by community donations.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have these one-time resources available to assist in these times of historic challenge,” McCabe added. “Each year, our CDBG program invests $250,000 or more into programs and services that benefit our low-and moderate income populations, but this infusion of ARPA funds has allowed us to more effectively reach a greater proportion of the population,” he finished.