BOSTON — The Healey-Driscoll administration announced that the Lauren Arms Ledwith Award for 2023 has been awarded to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts and its outstanding Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) outreach team.
The Food Bank was awarded this honor at the Department of Transitional Assistance’s (DTA) annual meeting with more than 100 local SNAP community-outreach partners. The award was presented to Christina Maxwell, Beth Ziemba, Megan Schuck, Stephanie Gibbs, and Luis Perez Jr. for continuously demonstrating a commitment to creating a better tomorrow for their communities by helping to eliminate hunger.
At the meeting, acting DTA Commissioner Mary Sheehan recognized the outstanding work done during the past year to connect residents with SNAP. Currently, almost 656,000 households receive SNAP benefits, a 45% increase from pre-pandemic levels.
“As we work closely with partners across the Commonwealth to respond to increased food insecurity and move towards a post-pandemic economy, we know that trusted, local resources are some of the first places people seek out for assistance. I am grateful for our new and existing partners’ joint efforts to help people access vital food resources,” Sheehan said. “The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts was one of our first SNAP outreach partners, and I am glad to honor them with the 2023 Lauren Ledwith Award to highlight their exceptional efforts to connect individuals and families with SNAP and thank them for their partnership.”
Since 1982, the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts has been a pioneer in the community by providing food to individuals and families located in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire counties. It has addressed food insecurity by meeting people where they are, conducting outreach at food pantries, meal sites, shelters, colleges, senior centers, correctional facilities, libraries, and veteran-serving agencies.
“The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts is extremely grateful to have been given this award in Lauren’s honor, and we are thankful for our ongoing partnership with DTA,” said Maxwell, director of Programs at the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. “Together, we work hard every day to break down barriers and help people access the nutrition assistance they need.”
The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts joined the SNAP outreach-reimbursement project in 2010 and remains a strong ally helping families in the western part of the state enroll in SNAP. As a SNAP outreach partner, the Food Bank successfully completes about 1,100 applications each year.