134 Main Street - PO BOX 651
North Adams, MA 01247

Mission and History


Mission Statement:

The Berkshire Food Project seeks to alleviate hunger, food insecurity, and social isolation by serving healthy, no cost meals and connecting people to other resources, all in a dignified and respectful manner.


The shift in the northern Berkshires from an industrial to a service economy has rendered hundreds of local residents unemployed, underemployed, or at best, leashed to minimum-wage jobs with neither benefits nor security.  In this devastating situation, the inability of a growing segment of our fellow citizens to provide their families with nutritious meals, and the actual incidence of hunger, have become alarming.

In the autumn of 1986, a group of Williams College students, with the support of several local residents and, above all, the encouragement of Rev. Elizabeth Wheeler (then minister of the First Congregational Church of North Adams) decided to create a program to offer regular free lunches in North Adams.  The Berkshire Food Project began its operations on a twice-weekly basis in January 1987.  Its initial funds came from a "meatless meal" program at Williams College.  For each student who was willing to forgo meat once a month, the College Dining Services donated (and still does donate) one dollar to the BFP.  

Apart from providing the Project with roughly $600 every month of the school year, this mode of fundraising made students aware of the serious needs of the community around them.  And indeed, this linkage between usually unconnected and distant parts of local society was from the very beginning a key objective of the BFP.  The BFP Board of Directors has always included a member or members from our dining room,  and all Board members are encouraged to support the Project by volunteering at mealtime.  All volunteers—as well as visiting business people—are expected to break bread with others in the dining room.  This interaction among diners, volunteers, church staff, community residents, and Board members is written prominently into the BFP mission statement.  The Project aspires to be a community forum where people of widely different ages and circumstances can meet one another in an atmosphere of friendliness and mutual respect.  

The BFP has grown from providing three meals each week in 1987 to now serving five days a week.  Our meals are cooked from scratch and often use local ingredients.  We make every effort to prepare delicious and nutritious meals;  we offer a vegetarian option every day.