Monday, May 4, 2020

Help From Many People and Groups

Marayam Kamagar, of Goodwill, has been working with us and our pantry friends for years. She has been key in getting the Goodwill truck help us and other programs during this pandemic. Below, the truck arrives on Friday, May 1, with our four pallets of food from the Food Bank of Western Mass.

Goodwill Helps Us Get Food Orders

Transportation is always a major issue when you’re dealing with food distribution. We are happy that one local organization is helping us and several other programs with this.
We’d like to thank Goodwill of the Berkshires and Southern Vermont. For the last few weeks and all the way through June, the Goodwill truck will be picking up our food order every week at the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts in Hatfield. Ordinarily, we rent a U-Haul truck every week and drive it to the Food Bank and back. So this saves us money and time. The size of their truck also allows us to get more food, without having to send a second truck to Hatfield.

On Friday, May 1, the truck brought in our order of 6,397 lbs. of food!
Through this arrangement, Goodwill is also helping several of our fellow programs. These include the Berkshire Food Project, Louison House, the Community Bible Church and the Williamstown Food Pantry.

Adams Center Pantry Reopening

We have official confirmation that the food pantry in Adams is reopening this Wednesday, May 6, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Those in line at 1 p.m. will be served. See photo of the sign below for more information. The Center Food Pantry is located on Route 8 in downtown Adams, in the basement of St. Thomas Church. The door is on the Route 8 side at street level and is located across from the end of Hoosac Street and the Berkshire Mill Apartments and diagonally across the street from Chee’s.

Though we never turn away anyone who comes to us for food, we ask that those from Adams, Cheshire and Savoy use the Adams pantry in the future. It has been our pleasure to serve you in recent weeks.

Measuring the Increase of Need

We have been serving more households since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the increase has not been as dramatic as in other areas of the country. In March 2019 we served an average of 121 households per week. This year in March, as the pandemic came to the forefront, we stayed about the same in household visits, with an average of 122 per week.

In April, at our new temporary location at the St. Elizabeth Parish Center, we have seen about a 10 percent increase in visits. In April 2019 we averaged 121 household visits per week. This year this has increased to an average of 133 visits per week.

One main reason why we have not seen a dramatic increase is that Northern Berkshire has been so great in pulling together to provide additional food resources. This includes our public schools. Following is just a partial list of the food opportunities available.

Other Local Food Sources

Food Pantries

The Community Bible Church Food Pantry, 160 Bridges Road, Williamstown, has food and are more than willing to distribute it. They are open to give out food every day. Just call Phyllis Babcock at 413-663-6094 and she will meet you at church at your convenience.

Williamstown Food Pantry at St Raphaels & St Patrick Church, Wednesdays, 9:30-12 at 53 Southworth St. Enter the church grounds from the Mission Park Drive entrance north of the church and exit onto Southworth Street. Drive Thru method, do not get out of the car. For information call: 413-458-4946, ext. 1.

Mobile Food Bank

The Mobile Food Bank of the Food Bank of Western Mass comes regularly to Adams and North Adams. On the second and fourth Tuesday of each month it comes to the Adams Council on Aging, 3 Hoosac St. in Adams, from 10 to 11 a.m. On the first and third Friday of each month, it comes to the North Adams American Legion, 91 American Legion Drive, from 10 to 11 a.m.

Meal Site

Berkshire Food Project-Monday, Wednesday and Friday-11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Grab and Go Lunch. Pick up is outside under the tent at kitchen door entrance.

Local Farm Food

The North Adams Farmers Market is online and mobile. Delivering to North County ONLY.  A limited amount of orders will be taken Monday during Grab and Go Lunch Distribution at the Berkshire Food Project, 11:30-1 or Wednesday at the Al Nelson Friendship Food Pantry at St. Elizabeth’s Parish. Delivery will be on Friday and Saturday. You can use credit card and debit orders if you would like to order online.

EBT payments will be accepted in person during the pre-order opportunities, and doubling up to $30 in benefits. Orders will be taken in person and payments must be made in person upon delivery. There will be FREE delivery for EBT customers. This was made possible by a grant from the Berkshire United Way's COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund for Berkshire County.

For more information, visit: For Questions Call: 413-664-6180 or Email:

Community Coalition Weekend Meal Delivery Program

This is a new program paid for through the Berkshire County COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund to coordinate a weekend meal delivery service through from local restaurants to those community members who are currently unable to leave their homes and unable to access food on the weekend. This initiative is open to people who reside in any one of the seven north Berkshire towns (Williamstown, North Adams, Clarksburg, Florida, Adams, Cheshire, and Savoy). At this time, they have budgeted for 150 meals for each weekend.

This program is intended to reach individuals and families with no other access to food resources on weekends. They strive to reach those families and individuals who are not already connected with a food pantry or meal program.

Organizers ask interested participants what food resources they are already accessing in order to avoid any duplication of efforts and so that they can expand the community's ability to provide for vulnerable populations.  

If you know of any individual who is in need of food on the weekend because they are dependent on food delivery services at this time, provide them with the Coalition main phone number, 413-663-7588. Coalition staff will be taking phone calls Monday through Friday, 9 3 p.m. Orders for weekend delivery will be placed on Fridays at 3 p.m. and deliveries will be coordinated for Saturday at a designated time. 

This program is free of charge, as the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition uses the funds it was awarded by the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund to compensate both the restaurant and the delivery driver for their service

Dick Netherwood and Frank Risati, both wearing masks, get to work unwrapping and shelving a pallet of food from the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, on Friday, May 5.

Thanks for Contributions and Offers to Volunteer

Above is a very impressive list of groups and organizations doing their best to help in this difficult time. It’s not only groups, however, who are helping so much. Since the start of this pandemic, we have received dozens of monetary donations from individuals, and almost as many offers to volunteer. We are grateful and appreciate all of them.

We have not to this point been able to utilize all of the volunteers who have offered, but we greatly appreciate them answering our call. We do not think this pandemic is going to be over soon, and when it mercifully is over there will still be lots of people in need. So we foresee many opportunities to help going forward. The first people we contact as new needs for help arise will be those who have already volunteered to help. Again, thank you!

New State Order on Masks

We here pass along information about the state order regarding wearing masks in public. All volunteers with our food pantry began wearing masks or face coverings while here two weeks ago. Though cloth face coverings are best for preventing one from giving COVID-19 to another, studies show that when two people interacting are both wearing masks the possibility of virus transmission goes way down. Though our food distribution is outside, we greatly appreciate it when our visiting friends are wearing a face covering.

With that said, here is more information from the Northern Berkshire COVID 19 Operations Center:

Per the Governor's order, face coverings are being required when entering stores and on public transportation starting on May 6th in order to help deter the spread of COVID19 and protect the health of our friends, neighbors and families.The requirement applies to all workers and customers of businesses and other organizations that are open to the public. Below is the link for today's press release: 

Don't worry if you cannot find masks online or in stores. There are any number of ways to make effective face coverings from materials you already have in your home such as scarves, bandanas, and old clothing.  

The link to the CDC recommendation and instructions on how to make a face covering from household items is included below:

For additional information:

Help spread the word. If you have questions or have trouble finding information, contact the North Berkshire Operations Center at 413-662-3614 or by email at

If you cannot find or make a mask, let us or the Operations Center know and we can probably find one for you.

Who We Are

As so many people are new to us, and we to them, during this pandemic, a few words about who we are.

The Northern Berkshire Interfaith Action Initiative Inc., the parent organization of the Al Nelson Friendship Center, is a 501c3 non-profit organization. We were founded ten years ago as a group of people from various faiths and denominations working with others of good will to serve our community.

The Friendship Center Food Pantry opened on Eagle Street in North Adams in February 2011. It has been an all-volunteer operation since its inception and is considered a model program by the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.

It was named the Friendship Center because we consider those we serve with our food pantry, and associated services, as friends, not clients. The name Al Nelson was added in 2018 after the passing of our beloved co-founder, Arlon “Al” Nelson. More information about us and our history can be found on this blog.

Our mailing address is PO Box 626 North Adams, MA 01247. Phone: 413-664-0123. Email: Website:

Thanks and God Bless,