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Ability First: BHMA Promotes Strengths of Young Adults with Disabilities Through Vocational Training

Image of Pat, wearing a gray t-shirt, looking at the camera as he sifts through vegetables at the Food Bank.

June, July and August are, by far, the busiest time of year for food pantries and meal sites across the country. Right here in Western Massachusetts, 300,900 different individuals were served at member agencies of the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts during those three months last year. With school out of session, many no longer receive the free school breakfasts or lunches they had access to during the school year, leaving food insecure families struggling to feed their children. They have no choice but to seek assistance to get them through the summer months.

Following commencement ceremonies in May, our students joined the effort to alleviate hunger in Western Massachusetts and provide meal assistance to families in need. Making a weekly trip to the Hatfield facility, our students enjoyed completing a variety of tasks— their primary role being sorters of local produce. Summer squash, zucchini, cucumbers, lettuce, and apples have all been sorted, bagged, boxed and prepared for distribution this summer.

Image of Connor, wearing a gray t-shirt, sorting through cucumbers at the Food Bank.

Given the size of the facility, number of other employees working in the sorting area, and frequent changes in given tasks, the FBWM was a more challenging worksite than others this first-year group (entering their second year of the Two-Year Certificate Program) had experienced, but our students rose to the challenge and effectively applied direction given by the Volunteer Coordinator, Kate. BHMA students were consistently enthusiastic about going to the Food Bank to help out families in need. 


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