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This past Friday, the Fellows continued their exploration of Greenfield with our partner Community Action of Franklin and Hampshire Counties.

In our second visit to Greenfield, we had the opportunity to meet with Dino Schnelle, the coordinator at the Center for Self-Reliance and Food Pantry. Dino began with an introduction to food issues and poverty in America and in our region, and then highlighted the origins of food assistance programs. We learned about the particular challenges within our area currently, and how despite signs of an improving economy, there has been increasing need in our community over the past few months.

Below are a few thoughts from our Fellows after our meeting with Dino.

The transformation of the Center for Self-Reliance (CSR), from its foundation to today, exemplifies how continuous learning of social needs propels the development of social entrepreneurial organizations. Dino said that the CSR started as a band-aid organization, meaning that it only provided a safety net for people falling into poverty but didn’t in fact help them back on their feet. He discussed that the way conventional food stamp programs runs can be problematic, especially in that they lack respect and connection with who they serve. For Dino, “It is important to know that they are being looked at as equal citizens. Also, it helps us to find out what their challenges really are and what they really need”. The poor also face a variety of obstacles that deter them from accessing aid: from the far distance of travel, to the absence of cooking apparatus, to food allergies, etc. By establishing one-to-one connection between CSR staff and people who seek help, their various needs can be met, and CSR may come up with a wide range of creative solutions.

  • Jessica Yang

As we have been visiting different programs and organizations in Greenfield, it has given me some time to explore and learn about all of the different projects. I have come to the realization of, not only how important agriculture/food sustainability, education and affordability is, but also how motivated and inspired I am from it.  It is this potential for a project that satisfies both my personal inspiration and public need that drives me now as I continue to learn more about the needs of the Greenfield Community.

  • Sophie Basescu