Rachel’s Table Celebrates New Refrigerated Van, State Funding, MGM Partnership

SPRINGFIELD — Rachel’s Table, a program of the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts (JFWM), unveiled its first refrigerated van, which was made possible by a $75,000 amendment filed by state Sen. Eric Lesser and state Rep. Brian Ashe in the American Rescue Plan Act.

Rachel’s Table also announced a new food-rescue partnership with MGM Springfield and that it would receive an additional $75,000 amendment filed by Lesser and Ashe to the FY23 state budget to support the program’s food-rescue work, including operational expenses that include the van’s maintenance. The announcements were made at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at MGM Springfield on Tuesday where legislators, local community leaders, nonprofit partners, and Rachel’s Table volunteers gathered to celebrate the news.

“In our 30 years of fighting hunger, we have found that we can have a bigger impact when various entities collaborate to create solutions that matter,” said Jodi Falk, Rachel’s Table director. “That is why we are overwhelmed with gratitude towards Senator Lesser, Representative Ashe, and MGM Springfield for supporting our work. Thanks to these amendments and our MGM Springfield partnership, we will be able to travel longer distances to rescue and deliver food as well as consistently provide a larger variety and thousands of pounds more of food to more people who need it most.”

Lesser noted that “Rachel’s Table is an organization rooted in community, fighting each day to tackle food insecurity and inspiring community activism in others. Their mission brings volunteers from various backgrounds and ages together to collect and distribute unused food to those who truly need it. I am grateful for their efforts and our ability to come together today and celebrate the inaugural trip of their new refrigerated van.”

Ashe added that “I’ve had the pleasure of working with and seeing firsthand the incredibly important work that Rachel’s Table does throughout our communities. Food is the fuel we all need to start our day and keep moving forward. Sadly, not everyone is able to have food on their table, and that is a travesty. I know that this refrigerated van will assist Rachel’s Table to reach even more people in need, and I’m proud to work with Senator Lesser, MGM, and Jodi Falk to help this come to fruition.”

After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, the refrigerated van made its first official trip by transporting an MGM Springfield donation of approximately 3,500 pounds of surplus food to the Salvation Army Liberty, Clinical and Support Option’s Friends of the Homeless, Massachusetts Military Support Foundation, Springfield Rescue Mission, Lorraine’s Soup Kitchen and Pantry, Kate’s Kitchen, and All Nations Church. The new partnership between Rachel’s Table and MGM Springfield will be ongoing and consist of a variety of surplus food from its dining facilities. Depending on the type of food donated at the time by MGM Springfield, local partners will be selected to receive the food.

“MGM Springfield is proud to support Rachel’s Table by regularly donating surplus food to be distributed to those in need,” said Chris Smigel, MGM Springfield’s executive director of Hospitality. “We value our relationship with this incredible organization and are grateful to be part of their mission to tackle food insecurity throughout our community.”

The van will be driven by the Rachel’s Table fleet of volunteers who have been specially trained to drive it. The van will primarily pick up food requiring refrigeration, such as meat and dairy, and make deliveries six days a week throughout Western Mass. It will be able to transport up to four pallets and close to 2,800 pounds of food.