With $70,000 in grant funding in hand, Community Health Programs has plans for a new ‘food depot” to support its food security programs based on Great Barrington.
But CHP’s comparatively modest 900-square-foot food distribution building is competing with more costly, larger scale projects for design and construction talent around Southern Berkshire.
“We have the funds, we have the plan, we have the need, and we sure have a lot of food,” said Mary Feuer, director of CHP Family Services and WIC which oversees a range of food programs for CHP patients and the general public.
During the Covid-19 pandemic food insecurity issues grew, and today CHP is distributing up to 2,000 bags of free food each month. CHP has also benefitted from the generosity of farmers, businesses, grant programs, individuals and community groups to keep shelves well-stocked at CHP’s Family Services on Stockbridge Road.
“When no one was allowed in our Family Services building, we used our indoor play space as operation central, and the building was chock-full of food,” said Michelle Derr, CHP Senior VP of Family Services. “Now we need our space back, but either way, we need food storage.”
The foundations of two local families contributed a total of $70,000 to fund the project and the money is in hand. The Gilson Foundation and the Donald C. McGraw Foundation are to thank for the project, said Carrie Barth, CHP’s director of grants and development.
Since the building is privately funded the RFP for interested designers and contractors is simple, unlike projects depending on public sources. However, the food storage facility must be built according to regulations related to safe food storage and safety.
An informal invite to builders and designers received a total of no responses. CHP now hopes to cast a wider, more public net.
“Everyone is so busy with projects far bigger than this, but we hope this project might resonate with a local designer-construction team who wants to partner with us on food security,” said Michelle Derr, CHP senior vice president of family services. “We need a place to keep all this generosity moving in and out.”
The designer/construction team should be familiar with the local permitting processes and the Wetlands Protection Act, since the building site is near wetland areas that surround the CHP campus. The local Conservation Commission will have oversight of the process.
Barth said up to three proposals are being sought for the project, no more. The deadline has been extended to June 2 at 4 p.m.