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Hunger remains a concern in western New England

As families across western New England and the country prepare to share Thanksgiving meals, hunger, which had been waning prior to the pandemic, remains a concern. Food insecurity has declined only slightly from its height during the pandemic. Area agencies that try to help those without enough to eat all report great generosity and assistance from the public.About 14 million households in the country, or 10.5% of all households experienced food insecurity last year, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. An estimated 8.5% of households in Massachusetts experienced food insecurity, while an estimated 11.8% of households in Connecticut experienced it.

Food insecurity is defined as the disruption of the normal eating habits of at least one member of a household due to a lack of resources or access to food.

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts provides food to smaller pantries and food banks in all four counties of western Massachusetts. Currently, it estimates it is providing food to assist 105 thousand people in the area.

“We've rallied to the cause and the need. And in that sense, it's been extremely inspiring and downright rewarding to to know that so many people care. And when we need to respond, the community is there to have our backs, and they certainly have proven time and time again that that as a community, we care about the most vulnerable in our communities,” Food Bank Executive Director Andrew Morehouse told And Another Thing.

The annual Monte’s March fundraising walk on Monday and Tuesday for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts exceeded its goal, bringing in $508,000. It was the 12th consecutive year that radio personality Monte Belmonte of WRSI, The River led a 43 mile walk from Springfield to Greenfield to raise funds for the food bank.

Of particular concern are areas, known as food deserts. Those are areas where people have no convenient access to fresh, healthy food. Frequently, they may rely instead on processed food or even fast food.

Hartford has only one full-service grocery story for the entire city. There is also a Wal-Mart and a few smaller stores that sell some fresh food.

“If you are working two jobs, and you have a couple of hours in between your two jobs to get to the grocery store and it takes you an hour bus ride, you know the math doesn't work on this,” said Martha Page of Hartford Food System.

Food deserts are also common in rural areas, including in parts of Berkshire County.

“I think a lot of it has to do with transportation. there are a lot of hill towns and, you know, mountain towns that not everyone has vehicles,” said Mark Rondeau, Director of the 

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Credit Don Treeger / The Republican MASSLIVE
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The Republican MASSLIVE
Inside the Foodbank of Western Massachusetts In Hatfield
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Credit Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPM
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NEPM
People viewing selections at South Congregational Church food pantry in Pittsfield

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