Town, Business Community Is Providing Dinners To Amherst Families Impacted By COVID-19

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Source: amherstma.gov 

The Town of Amherst, local businesses and restaurants are working together to provide prepared dinners twice a week in December to Amherst families affected by COVID-19.

The Town has dedicated $10,000 from Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding towards feeding families in need. Another $5,000 was contributed by the Downtown Amherst Foundation (DAF), through the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce (COC) and Amherst Business Improvement District (BID).

The Town will work with Family Outreach of Amherst, to connect families in need with the meals, which are being purchased from local restaurants.

The “December Dinner Delights,” program represents an extension of the social work conducted by Family Outreach of Amherst, which was funded by the Town to identify and fill unmet community needs caused COVID-19, a a Town press release said.

The COC and the BID recruited ten local restaurants to provide 1,000 prepared dinners during the month of December. Participating restaurants include: Bistro 63, El Comalito, Veracruzana, Wheelhouse, Miss Saigon, Pasta e Basta, Kaiju, Osteria Vespa, Shanghai Gourmet, and Fresh Side. On Christmas Eve, families will receive a Henion Bakery pie and a special gift for children, made possible through support from Toy Box, AJ Hastings and Amherst Books.

“The month of December can be particularly hard for families experiencing food insecurity. It is a month which is often laden with high expectations,” said Amherst Town Manager Paul Bockelman. “The Town has a unique opportunity to lend a helping hand to those who have been impacted by COVID-19, at a time when it may be needed most.”

Bockelman commended business leaders who were instrumental in developing the program, which will support families in need and local restaurants.

COC Executive Director Claudia Pazmany said that “collective partnerships such as this are how we make the most positive impact at such difficult times … it is a win for our entire community.”

BID Executive Director Gabrielle Gould said the BID is hopeful that “Dinner Delights” will be a successful pilot program. “If CARES funding continues into 2021, together with the Downtown Amherst Foundation funds, we can continue this program for at least the first quarter of 2021 getting our families through the winter,” Gould said. She added that the DAF is accepting donations, at downamherstfoundation.org.

The Western Mass Food Bank has estimated that 1 in 6 people are experiencing food insecurity this year and estimates for children are even higher, with 1 in 4 children experiencing food insecurity. The Amherst community and local agencies have responded nimbly to the increased demand for food assistance due to COVID-19, the press release said.

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