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Examining Institutional Response and Limitations to address Food Insecurity in Westfield, Massachusetts

The purpose of this research project was to assess institutional response to food insecurity in Westfield, Massachusetts. Objectives included identifying critical constraints of both non-profits and government entities that can be mended through planning and policy to improve the systematic response to hunger. Interviews were conducted with the director of the Westfield Food Pantry and City of Westfield Community Development department to identify what the biggest logistical and policy constraints are in allowing the food pantry to serve the community more effectively. Primary constraints to the food pantry are funding for salary and overhead expenses. Logistical issues like broken or near broken refrigeration and freezer appliances and lack of warehouse equipment hinder operations. The director of the Westfield Food Pantry Policy expressed desire to provide a more robust response to hunger through proper outreach to vulnerable populations like immigrant communities. Constraints at the city level that hinder response to food insecurity include the limited funds to disperse to a variety of agencies and restrictions on how much can be given to non-profits like the food pantry or immigrant resettlement agencies. Policy that increases the monetary amount of federal block grants that are dispersed through the city or policy that allows the city to provide grants themselves would provide resources that can better alleviate food insecurity. The Community Development department expressed concern over Covid-19 Pandemic aid ending and current inflation resulting in more Westfield residents falling into food insecurity.

Kevin O'Grady '22
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