La Colaborativa has been awarded $6,500 to support projects centered around community engagement and dialogues. The “Pathways to Change” grant program, launched by Project Bread in 2023, creates opportunities to connect and to elevate community and individual voices, expertise, and strengths. This year, five organizations were awarded a one-time investment of $6,500 to fund projects that aim to develop community leadership and advocacy, address barriers to implementing and utilizing federal programs, and provide opportunities to discuss and dismantle the stigma of food insecurity.
La Colaborativa reaches the community through an active three step process: Survival, Stability and Empowerment. After decades of working within the community, it was the pandemic that spotlighted the truth that could no longer be hidden: our people are not okay, and they need proper assistance, understanding and representation. To address that process, La Colaborativa established a triage department; economic development department; a food pantry that has, over the last three years, become a pillar to the Chelsea community; a youth program working directly with Chelsea youth ages 14-21 years old; and a policy and organization department to uplift everyone who walks through their doors.
Project Bread is the leading statewide anti-hunger organization in Massachusetts. The nonprofit engages residents, elected officials, and businesses to act against hunger so everyone in the Commonwealth has reliable access to food. Through this $6,500 grant, Project Bread aims to support applicants, like La Colaborativa, that develop spaces for community conversations and engagement around food access that will strengthen relationships, support each other, and achieve positive social change.
“Investing in local communities is an essential way to make a lasting impact” says Adriana Mendes-Sheldon, Director of Community Partnerships at Project Bread. “We believe in the power of community-led solutions. Our local partners and residents are the real experts in addressing challenges and meeting their unique needs. Consequently, we invest in communities to leverage their resources and strengths with Project Bread’s own resources and strengths. I’m excited to witness the innovative and transformative projects that arise from this opportunity and to see the progress it creates in the fight against food insecurity.”
The 2024 “Pathways to Change” community investment program received multiple entries in the communities of Chelsea, Lawrence, Springfield, Fall River and Southbridge. Project Bread has issued awards to five nonprofits, grassroots organizations, community organizers, residents, faith organizations, artists, after-school programs and other non-traditional groups to fund local projects.
“We thank Project Bread for this generous donation,” says Gladys Vega, Executive Director of La Colaborativa. “We are using these funds to support the salary of our drivers. Every Thursday our food pantry hand delivers boxes of food for those with COVID or disabilities. Being able to deliver food via these drivers allows us to maximize food rescue around Greater Boston and increase the pounds of fruits and vegetables consumed, positively impacting food equity in our surrounding areas.”
People experiencing food insecurity should call into Project Bread’s toll-free FoodSource Hotline (1-800-645-8333), which provides confidential assistance to connect with food resources, including SNAP benefits, in 180 languages and for the hearing impaired. For more information, visit: www.projectbread.org/get-help.