NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – An organization dedicated to helping low-wage and immigrant workers throughout western Massachusetts was awarded funding to continue providing food at no cost.

Pioneer Valley Workers Center’s (PVWC) People’s Pantry mutual aid program was awarded a total of $530,000 Local Food Purchasing Assistance grant from the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture for 2023-2024. The funding will be able to help provide local and regional produce, dairy, eggs, meat, and other healthy foods to over 9,350 immigrants, low-wage workers, people of color, underserved populations, and anyone else in need. 

With the support of volunteers and partnerships at local farms and businesses, will bring farm-fresh food to communities at monthly distribution sites in Hampden and Franklin County. In addition, a new center in Turners Falls will serve as a community resource for food storage, distribution, and other training and events that support food justice and equity for underserved local residents.

“It’s powerful to be able to give my immigrant community and low-wage workers in this region some dignity through providing them with an abundance of high quality food,” says Leninn Torres, lead organizer and coordinator of the People’s Pantry. “Many of these people work in low-wage jobs, deplorable conditions, and segregated housing. This is caused by an unscrupulous economic system and a government that only cares about monetary and political power. I am glad we are able to provide organic and local foods to low-income people who are the ones usually working hard to grow and harvest them, but rarely able to afford or access them themselves.”

The Pioneer Valley Workers Center’s People’s Pantry (La Despensa del Pueblo) is an emergency food program in Springfield and Turners Falls that was established in 2017. They currently help provide food to more than 500 people every month.