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North Adams Veterans Services Now Offering City Hall Food Pantry
By Rebecca Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
02:24AM / Saturday, March 10, 2018
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From left, Veterans Agent Stephen Roy, Big Y employees Maggie D'Amour and Nikki Smith, and veterans assistant Tina Samson show some of the goods Big Y donated to a new food pantry for veterans in North Adams City Hall.

'Scratch and dent' cans of fruit are among the donated items in the food pantry.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The jobs of local Veterans Agent Stephen Roy and his assistant, Tina Samson, just got a little bigger.

Lucky for them, so has the generosity of the Northern Berkshire community.

The Veterans Services office, located in North Adams City Hall, had been serving veterans in the towns of Williamstown, Adams, Clarksburg, Florida and Savoy in addition to vets living in the city itself. On March 1, the office's reach expanded to include the towns of Dalton, Lanesborough and Cheshire. That is why it has been a blessing for the office to be able to expand its cache of free items for the 180 to 200 veterans it now serves monthly, including a new endeavor of providing a food pantry led by donations from Big Y supermarkets in North Adams and Pittsfield.

"It's helped a lot of people," Roy said.

On Friday, Roy and Samson welcomed Maggie D'Amour, the store director of the North Adams Big Y, as well as Big Y receiver Nikki Smith over to City Hall to tour the first-floor space currently housing not only the food donations but coats and clothing donated by other businesses, including Ocean State Job Lots and Olympia Sports.

"The community has been a great big help to the veterans," Samson said.

Samson said volunteers go to the two Big Y markets monthly and pick up at least 10 boxes of "scratch and dent" food items like chips, canned fruit and pasta as well as "top-shelf" items like organic sauces and dressings. She then tries to have the food pantry open when veterans come to pick up their checks on the 15th of the month.

"The response has been really good," said Samson, who said she then donates any leftover food to the Louison House homeless shelter in North Adams. "It just helps out everybody in the community. It does not go to waste."

D'Amour, a member of the family that owns the Big Y chains, said she is happy to help the effort, not only to help the community but also because her brother is a Marine veteran.

"We're very happy to be part of helping the veterans," she said. "It makes me proud."

Samson hopes to expand the food pantry by soliciting donations from other local stores but is waiting to find a permanent home for the items: City Hall offices are consolidating to the first floor of the current building to make room for North Adams Public Schools offices on the second floor, leaving her storage space in jeopardy. She said she is working with North Adams Mayor Tom Bernard to find a new space to keep the operation going.

"We'll definitely find a space," she said.

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