Give Local: The Community Foundation for MetroWest

As we promote food security through local, sustainable agriculture, we celebrate the local, sustainable philanthropy that makes our efforts possible—like generous investments from The Community Foundation for MetroWest, which launched almost 30 years ago to change lives in the region. 

“Back then, there were many philanthropic efforts in Greater Boston but people seemed blissfully unaware there were also real needs here in the MetroWest,” said Caroline Murphy, vice president of programs and donor services for the foundation.

Since 1995, the foundation has provided more than $34 million in grants to 1,000+ nonprofits—including Gaining Ground! We are immensely grateful to partner with Caroline and her team as beneficiaries of their Hunger Relief Fund. 

“Hunger remains pervasive, and knows no borders,” Caroline said. “People are facing food insecurity in Wellesley just the same as [in] Waltham, Framingham, and some of our more densely populated areas with concentrated lower income.”

The Hunger Relief Fund began in 2009, to provide $1,000 to every MetroWest food pantry. It has evolved into an endowed, enduring program that recognizes food justice as the domain of many intersecting groups—including farms, food rescue missions, community supper programs, and healthcare providers. 

“There are so many models and people in the ecosystem that make this important work happen,” Caroline said. “It’s not just about getting food to people in need, but also bringing dignity into that process, ensuring good nutrition, addressing underlying health needs and environmental factors, and giving people options.”

At the fund’s inception, there were 40 pantries serving 33 MetroWest communities. Today the foundation recognizes about 70 organizations contributing to hunger relief. 

“Gaining Ground is a perfect example of this network, interconnected with all of the partners we support,” she said. “There is no competition—just an intricate effort to solve real problems.”

The foundation’s most intensive work took place during COVID lockdown, when their team was tapped by the state and federal government to distribute CARES Act and American Rescue Plan funding. Generous institutional and individual donors also fueled emergency response grantmaking. . Of the $8 million the foundation distributed, 45 percent went to hunger relief. Years later the foundation remains in a mindset of emergency response, Caroline said, because of the sheer demand for healthy, affordable food. 

“Everybody deserves fresh produce,” she said. “Here in Massachusetts, we’re at the end of the supply chain. Some of our food travels the farthest, creating cost barriers and environmental implications.”

That’s why our partnership is so vital. Last season, the foundation helped us grow and donate 30,000+ pounds of fresh produce for our partners at Open Table, Daniel’s Table, the Sudbury Food Pantry, and Watch City Market. Thank you!

Banner image: Caroline Murphy, Vice President of Programs and Donor Services, Community Foundation for MetroWest. Inset image: Fresh spinach and greens are washed carefully before they make their way to hunger relief partners in the region.

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