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Monte’s March, Take 4; Worth Quoting; Twin Co-ops for Amherst

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013
photo courtesy of Food Bank of Western Massachusetts

Monte’s March, Take 4

If you listen to radio station 93.9-The River, you know morning host Monte Belmonte. For each of the past three years, Monte has pushed a shopping cart up the road to raise money for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts and the 135,000 people in the Valley it serves. This year he’ll walk the 26 miles from Northampton to Greenfield on November 6.

Monte gets started early—last year the walk (pictured) took him 12 hours—and phones will open at the Food Bank at 6:30 a.m. To help the Food Bank top last year’s take of $45,000, call (888) 323-4673 to make a donation, or join the walk by calling The River (413-586-7400) for directions about how to join Monte on the road for an hour, pushing a shopping cart of your own. There’s an exceptional urgency to the event this year because, as Andrew Morehouse, executive director of the Food Bank, pointed out, “... the imminent cuts to the federal SNAP-Food Stamps program could cause a tsunami of food-insecure households turning to our region’s emergency food network to feed themselves.” For more information about the march, go to http://www.foodbankwma.org/events/montes-march.

 

By the Numbers: $268 million

That’s how much potential sales tax revenue Massachusetts lost out on from e-commerce in fiscal 2012, according to a study by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Starting Nov. 1, Massachusetts residents will begin paying sales tax on eligible items bought from Amazon, the world’s largest on-line retailer, under an agreement reached last year with the Patrick administration.

 

 

As the corporate world has developed over the last 30 years, less and less money has gone to people who actually produce things while more has trickled up—to middlemen, to administrators and CEOs. Planning to buck that trend is the All Things Local Store, a farm and craft shop now in the process of moving in at 104 N. Pleasant in Amherst, formerly occupied by the Souperbowl. All Things Local’s goal is to return 80 percent of the prices of items sold to the farmers and craftspeople in this area who produce them.

Sharing All Things Local’s mission to give local food a local market is the Amherst Community Market, which is still searching for a site. The Market will be a co-op offering local farm products and aspires to be a full-service grocery store, rather like River Valley Market in Northampton, with the emphasis on affordability. To offer updates on their operating plans and explain their missions, the two groups will hold an open meeting called the Amherst Food Forum on Nov. 2 at 4 p.m. at Food for Thought Books, located next to All Things Local at 106 N. Pleasant Street.

 

Worth Quoting:

“Type ‘Evan Dobelle’ into any Internet search engine and you get about 93,000 results for the embattled —now suspended—Westfield State University president. Add in ‘Hawaii’ and you still get more than 33,000 returns; narrow it further by adding ‘spending’ and it still exceeds more than 14,000 hits. For the heck of it, type in ‘lavish’ and it stays about the same. And the majority of the results predate Dobelle’s hiring in 2007 at Westfield.

“So it seems reasonable to ask: Did they know about Google in Western Massachusetts before the school’s trustees voted to hire Dobelle?…”

e_SEmDJack Sullivan, writing at commonwealthmagazine.org

 

The Valley-based Prison Birth Project works with and advocates for pregnant women and mothers in the criminal justice system—a not-insignificant population. According to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, 62 percent of women in state prisons have minor children, and one out of 25 women in state prisons and one out of 33 in federal prisons are pregnant at the time of their incarceration.

The Prison Birth Project offers support groups for incarcerated mothers as well as a doula program for pregnant and post-partum women at the Western Mass. Regional Women’s Correctional Center in Chicopee. It also fights to change public policy, including lobbying for a bill that would forbid the controversial practice of shackling women prisoners who are pregnant or in childbirth. Massachusetts is one of more than 30 states that allow this practice; attempts have been made to change the law at the Statehouse in recent years but have yet to pass.

On Nov. 1, the PBP celebrates its fifth anniversary with a “solidarity supper” and fundraiser, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Smith College Conference Center in Northampton. “The event will be a wonderful opportunity to discover how you can contribute to PBP’s work while enjoying a local, farm-fresh dinner,” organizers say. For more information or to buy tickets ($30 per person or $50 for two, with sliding-scale rates available), go to www.theprisonbirthproject.org.

 

Twin Co-ops for Amherst

As the corporate world has developed over the last 30 years, less and less money has gone to people who actually produce things while more has trickled up—to middlemen, to administrators and CEOs. Planning to buck that trend is the All Things Local Store, a farm and craft shop now in the process of moving in at 104 N. Pleasant in Amherst, formerly occupied by the Souperbowl. All Things Local’s goal is to return 80 percent of the prices of items sold to the farmers and craftspeople in this area who produce them.

Sharing All Things Local’s mission to give local food a local market is the Amherst Community Market, which is still searching for a site. The Market will be a co-op offering local farm products and aspires to be a full-service grocery store, rather like River Valley Market in Northampton, with the emphasis on affordability. To offer updates on their operating plans and explain their missions, the two groups will hold an open meeting called the Amherst Food Forum on Nov. 2 at 4 p.m. at Food for Thought Books, located next to All Things Local at 106 N. Pleasant Street.

 

 

 

 

 

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