BTCF Awards $1.09 Million in CARES Act Funding for Food Security in Berkshire County

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Massachusetts state agency partnership with community foundations is a resounding success.

Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), was one of 13 community foundations across the state entrusted to re-grant federal CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act Funds to local organizations. This funding, known as Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) for Food Security, was allocated to 10 Berkshire County nonprofits operating food provision programs serving individuals with moderate or low income.

What is a block grant? Block grants are federal funds designated for specific state or local programs and administered by state or local authorities familiar with local issues.

For the stream of federal funds to reach its intended recipients and have the greatest impact, the state agency turned to the grantmaking experience and local expertise of community foundations.

“CARES Act funds have been essential in feeding more than 500,000 low- and moderate-income communities across the state in response to the COVID-19 pandemic," said Ed Augustus, secretary of the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities for the Massachusetts state government. "And no one knows the needs in our communities like our community partners who have worked to deploy food-related resources quickly and efficiently. Our partnership with this network of community foundations has been a resounding success."

COVID-19 and the economic effects of the pandemic resulted in an increased demand for food provision services among Berkshire County residents. One grantee, The Food Bank of Western MA, collects data on hunger and food-insecure percentages in Berkshire towns via reporting from its partner food pantries. Berkshire County’s average local hunger rate is at 8.5%, however, some individual towns such as Pittsfield have a rate as high as 10.7%.

BTCF’s administration of CDBG funds focused on helping qualified food provision programs make critical capital investments and improve the reach and efficiency of their services. CDBG awards of up to $200,000, made it possible for the nonprofits to purchase equipment such as refrigerators, freezers, refrigerated trucks, and forklifts—all of which make it easier to meet the increased need in our communities.

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