WILBRAHAM — Rice Fruit Farm is named after original owner, Jesse Rice who established, back in the late 1800s, what is now described as an historic New England farmstand owned by the Maloni family. The operation features an in-house bakery, homemade ice cream, and fresh breakfast items year-round, in addition to seasonal local and organic vegetables.
It also supports events promoting mental health, including during last week’s National Suicide Prevention Week. In partnership with Holyoke-based MiraVista Behavioral Health Center, beverages sold throughout that week at Rice’s carried the sticker: 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. The lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support 24/7 to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress who dial or text 988.
“Doing this with MiraVista is a no brainer,” Anthony Maloni said. “You hear stories around mental health, whether they involve people you know or who are known, and yet, mental illness is not as widely understood as other illness. Treatment for it is half the battle. If we can help with that in any way — even just with one person — that would be an incredible outcome of this effort.
“Simply raising awareness of the 988 number and the services of MiraVista is an undertaking we are more than eager to be a part of,” he added. “We have many young people from area colleges frequenting our location, a population we will target with this messaging.
Maloni said Rice’s sells about 12,000 beverages monthly with cider from native apples particularly popular this time of year.
Kimberley Lee, chief of Creative Strategy and Development at MiraVista, called the 988 labels on Rice’s cups “mini-billboards.”
“Suicide prevention, as well as recovery from mental illness and substance use, are all about the importance of intervention, the earlier the better, and public support for intervention,” Lee said. “We are extremely thankful for the Maloni family partnership and their willingness to use Rice’s as a platform for a conversation about suicide prevention.”
For more information on the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, which routes calls to the center nearest the individual’s area code, visit 988lifeline.org.