Rockridge Residents Skip Dessert to Help Food Bank

NORTHAMPTON — Rockridge resident Harriet Rogers explains No-Dessert Day in simple terms: “we don’t get so we can give.”

Once a month, Rockridge Retirement Community residents give up dessert for the day, and instead donate that money to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. Residents presented their first $150 check to the Food Bank in December.

Usually Rockridge will spend approximately $50 per day on making homemade desserts for residents, said Diana Hitchcock, Director of Dining Services.

“We will make pies, apple crisp, cookies, etc., and we have to make enough for the residents’ meals,” Hitchcock said. “Because we have an in-house baker, the only real cost is the cost of the materials.” No-Dessert Day has allowed the facility to donate $50 per month to the Food Bank.

“Something as simple as giving up dessert one day a week can make a big difference in helping our neighbors in need of food assistance,” said Megan Pete, director of Development and Marketing for the Food Bank of Western Mass. “Members of the Rockridge community have stepped up to set an example of how easy it can be to join the fight against hunger. Thanks to their monetary donation, the Food Bank can bring more food to hungry elders, children, and adults in our region.”

“This is our way of being able to give,” Rogers said. “In our homes, we gave however we could, and many of us don’t have that opportunity anymore. This is our way to give back.”

Once the idea began circulating among residents, Rogers said there was unanimous support. Rogers said a few residents had discussed the idea originally, and did not think they would have much trouble convincing everyone to participate.

“Everyone thought that we could certainly do that little bit to help those who are less fortunate,” she said. “We didn’t think we’d have any trouble pursuing it because it’s such a good idea.”

“We have only to turn on the television or open a newspaper to be reminded every day of just how lucky we are at Rockridge,” wrote some residents in the announcement to the wider Rockridge community. “We cannot save the world, but we can help local families here in Western Mass. who are hungry.”

Residents thought they could go without dessert to help others in the area, and by skipping dessert, they wouldn’t harm their nutrition. She said residents have gotten used to the idea, and are encouraged by how much money they’ve raised.

“Some of us are talking about doing this more than once a month,” Rogers said. “Maybe eventually we’ll be able to do that.”

Many of the waitstaff at Rockridge are in high school or college, and are inspired by the initiative taken on by the residents.

“The kitchen staff thinks it’s great what the residents are doing,” Hitchcock said. “They realize that we can all have dessert every single day, yet there are people who can’t have meals every single day.”

Beth Vettori, executive director, said what the residents have agreed to reflects on the overall mission of Rockridge.

“This is one powerful example of the ways our residents inspire us on a daily basis,” she said. “We are all blessed by the way so many of our residents give of themselves to help others in need.”