Food Distribution During COVID-19
The Gray House is excited to announce that we are partnering with Greater Springfield Senior Services to expand our food assistance program and offer grab-and-go meals for senior citizens (60 years old and over) during COVID-19. Please see more details below under Senior Grab-and-Go Meal Pick-up.
In order to ensure the safety of our staff, volunteers and clients, The Gray House will provide no-contact curbside food distribution during the pandemic. This will take place during our normal Market hours listed below. During this time, we will not be asking people to fill out an intake form. You will not need any documentation and visits during this time will not count against your 12 visits per year. We recognize that this is an extremely difficult time for our neighbors and want to make the process as easy as possible.
We do ask that you please be patient and follow the instructions from our volunteers and staff when waiting for your food. These measures are put in place to protect everyone and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Hours for Curbside Market (groceries)
Every Thursday 9am-12pm
Second & Fourth Fridays of every month from 4pm-6pm
*Please note there is no distribution on Thanksgiving Day or the Friday after Thanksgiving. Instead, eligible families can pre-register to receive a turkey and other thanksgiving food. This is typically done in late October.
Process During COVID-19
If you have a vehicle, please drive onto Sheldon Street from Main Street. When it is your turn, a volunteer will wave you over, collect basic information and direct you to move forward where another volunteer will put the groceries in your vehicle. PLEASE REMAIN IN YOUR VEHICLE AT ALL TIMES. Please do not exit the vehicle to help our volunteers, open the car doors or rearrange your groceries. While we appreciate your help, it is vital to our ability to maintain this service that the proper procedures are followed.
If you do not have a vehicle, please walk onto Sheldon Street from Main Street. There will be round markers placed on the sidewalk indicating where you should stand and wait in line in order to maintain a 6ft distance from others. Please do not move up until the person in front of you has moved to the next marker. When it is your turn to be assisted, please remain on the marker. A volunteer will collect your information, place your food on a pallet and, once the volunteer has stepped back from the pallet, they will instruct you to move forward and take your food. Please wait for these directions to move forward.
Visiting The Market at Gray House
Households can come to The Gray House up to twelve times within a calendar year. First time visitors will need to complete an intake form and bring the required documentation listed below.
- A form of ID for all members of the household
- Proof of income
- Proof of address such as a piece of mail from the last six months (cannot be junk mail) or a lease agreement
If you have a MassHealth card, this will cover requirements 1 & 2.
To find other food assistance programs near you, visit the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts’ Food Bank Agency Locator
The Need for Food Assistance
The Gray House is located in the North End of Springfield, one of the poorest areas in the city and in the state. Here over 45% of residents live below the poverty line; that’s four times more than the statewide rate. On average, The Market at Gray House serves 80–120 households per week. Households are able to visit The Market twelve times each calendar year. With each visit, they receive three to four days worth of food.
Many of our neighbors have to choose between paying rent, utility bills including heating, child care, medical bills and prescriptions, purchasing school uniforms and winter coats, and buying food. Clothing and food are often the first areas in which people make sacrifices. This is why hunger emerges as a serious, and increasingly a chronic, problem in impoverished neighborhoods like the North End.
Many of our visitors have told us they are turning to emergency food support for the first time. They are newly unemployed, employed part-time with their hours greatly reduced, grandparents finding themselves unexpectedly caring for family members who can no longer support themselves, and seniors choosing between food and prescriptions.
In addition, many people had been able to get by with federal food assistance. However, in November of 2013, the federal government cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps) and people lost valuable support. The SNAP cuts had an impact on 160,000 families in western Massachusetts. A family of four now receives $36 less a month. This may not sound like much, but the average SNAP benefit provides about $1.40 per meal, which means a family of four will lose their ability to pay for at least 21 meals a month.
To learn how you can get involved in The Market, please see our volunteer opportunities.