Jars of pasta sauces and other canned goods line the walls of the People's Pantry in April. Photo courtesy the People's Pantry

Business Briefs: People’s Pantry grant; masks from BMM; virtual town hall; MCLA Trailblazers Keep Going initiative

The panel will share the current outlook of food and agriculture in the region, creative approaches some businesses have taken and from which others can learn, and provide a point of perspective on the future of the Berkshires’ food system.

People’s Pantry receives grant

Great Barrington — The People’s Pantry has announced its recent receipt of a grant through the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund for Berkshire County, sponsored jointly by Berkshire United Way and Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation. The grant of $1,500 was awarded for the purpose of hiring a part-time staff person to oversee activities at the pantry during shopping hours, and the pantry has hired Jenny Schwartz to fill the position. Schwartz also works as the food access coordinator for the Southern Berkshire Rural Health Network and Fairview Hospital, helping to develop a system to ensure that local families have access to healthy food on a regular basis.

The People’s Pantry provides food at no cost to South County residents Mondays from 5 to 6:30 p.m. and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Saint James Place.

–E.E.

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Berkshire Money Management to distribute free face masks

Dalton — In reaction to Gov. Charlie Baker’s recent order requiring all Massachusetts residents to wear face coverings in public, Berkshire Money Management has secured 5,000 hand-sewn cloth facemasks to make available to the community. The bulk of the masks will be distributed Thursday, May 7, from noon to 4 p.m. at Berkshire Money Management’s headquarters.

Visitors will be asked to drive clockwise through the circular driveway, stopping at a no-touch handoff point to receive a family-sized package of five masks. All masks are donations from BMM and will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis.

Berkshire Money Management has donated nearly 30,000 masks and other personal protective equipment to the local community.

–E.E.

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1Berkshire to offer ‘Food and Agriculture in the Era of COVID-19’ virtual presentation

Pittsfield — 1Berkshire will hold its third Virtual Town Hall, “Food and Agriculture in the Era of COVID-19,” Friday, May 8, at 10 a.m. Moderated by 1Berkshire director of economic development Benjamin Lamb, the panel will include Bright Ideas Brewing co-founder and owner Orion Howard, Marty’s Local founder and owner Nick Martinelli, Berkshire Agricultural Ventures executive director Cynthia Pansing, and Roots Rising co-director Jessica Vecchia.

The panel will share the current outlook of food and agriculture in the region, creative approaches some businesses have taken and from which others can learn, and provide a point of perspective on the future of the Berkshires’ food system. “With a broad-reaching set of expertise and points of perspective around our food system in the Berkshires, this panel offers unique and dynamic insights into thoughts, actions and approaches that could help reshape and reinforce our regional food and agriculture sector,” said Lamb.

The event is free and open to the public but registration is required. For more information or to register, see the Berkshire Edge calendar, or contact 1Berkshire at (413) 499-1600 or info@1berkshire.com.

–E.E.

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MCLA Trailblazers Keep Going initiative puts CARES Act funding to work

North Adams — Last week, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts announced the Trailblazers Keep Going initiative to deploy part of the college’s federal CARES Act funding to students in need.

MCLA will receive $1.3 million under the CARES Act. Colleges and universities are required to utilize the first portion of the funding — which, for MCLA, is about $650,000 — to assist students experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A large portion of the funding will be distributed through the MCLA Resiliency Fund, which was set up in March by the MCLA Foundation and has since distributed nearly $30,000 in private money to help ease the immediate needs for more than 75 MCLA students. Additional dollars will be added to the Resiliency Fund’s total in order to meet the needs of as many students experiencing economic hardship as possible.

Earlier in April, MCLA reimbursed resident students for partial housing, meal plan and parking costs due to the movement of the campus to remote instruction for the semester, which began March 30. The total of those reimbursements was $1.5 million. Colleges and universities are not permitted to replenish these refund expenses with CARES Act funding.

–E.E.