Press Release

Press Release DTA Honors the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts with the 2023 Lauren Arms Ledwith Award

Recipients demonstrate leadership and commitment to fighting food insecurity
For immediate release:
5/10/2023
  • Department of Transitional Assistance

Media Contact for DTA Honors the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts with the 2023 Lauren Arms Ledwith Award

Alana Davidson

BostonThe Healey-Driscoll Administration announced this week that the Lauren Arms Ledwith Award for 2023 has been awarded to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts and its outstanding Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) outreach team. The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts was awarded this honor at the Department of Transitional Assistance’s (DTA) annual meeting with more than 100 local SNAP community outreach partners, all of whom are trusted groups in the community and provide critical help for people to understand and enroll in the program.

The award was presented to Christina Maxwell, Beth Ziemba, Megan Schuck, Stephanie Gibbs, and Luis Perez Jr. for continuously demonstrating a commitment to creating a better tomorrow for their communities by helping to eliminate hunger.

At the meeting, Acting Commissioner Mary Sheehan recognized the outstanding work done during the past year to connect residents with SNAP. Currently, almost 656,000 households receive SNAP benefits, a 45% increase from pre-pandemic levels.  

“As we work closely with partners across the Commonwealth to respond to increased food insecurity and move towards a post-pandemic economy, we know that trusted, local resources are some of the first places people seek out for assistance. I am grateful for our new and existing partners’ joint efforts to help people access vital food resources,” said DTA Acting Commissioner Mary Sheehan. “The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts was one of our first SNAP outreach partners and I am glad to honor them with the 2023 Lauren Ledwith Award to highlight their exceptional efforts to connect individuals and families with SNAP and thank them for their partnership.”

“The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts is extremely grateful to have been given this award in Lauren’s honor, and we are thankful for our ongoing partnership with DTA. Together, we work hard every day to break down barriers and help people access the nutrition assistance they need,” said Christina Maxwell, Director of Programs at the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.

Since 1982, the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts has been a pioneer in the community by providing food to individuals and families located in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire counties. They have done a tremendous job in addressing food insecurity by meeting people where they are, conducting their outreach at food pantries, meal sites, shelters, colleges, senior centers, correctional facilities, libraries, and veteran serving agencies.

The Lauren Arms Ledwith Award was created in 2018 in remembrance of former SNAP Director Lauren Arms Ledwith, who founded the SNAP Outreach reimbursement project in Massachusetts. This award recognizes outreach partners with an unyielding commitment to driving meaningful change by addressing the causes of hunger and engaging with groups within their communities. This reflects Lauren’s passion for advocacy work and her continued dedication to creating partnerships to address food insecurity.

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts joined the SNAP outreach reimbursement project in 2010 and remains a strong ally assisting families in the western part of the state enroll in SNAP. As a SNAP Outreach partner, they successfully complete about 1,100 applications per year.

The SNAP Outreach Program is a joint effort between DTA, Commonwealth Medicine/University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School and local community organizations. It helps households understand and complete SNAP applications and recertifications and gather and submit required information and documents. Find a list of all partners at Mass.gov/SNAPOutreachPartners.

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Media Contact for DTA Honors the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts with the 2023 Lauren Arms Ledwith Award

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