Here are some of the most common questions that people ask about the Amherst Survival Center. Please see the program pages for more information about each program area. If you have a question that is not covered, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-549-3968.
Can I come to the Amherst Survival Center?
YES YOU CAN! The Amherst Survival Center is available to everyone! There is no eligibility, no documentation, and no ID required. Most of our services are intake-free (all we ask is for you to tell us what town you live in–there is no wrong answer!). We have a parking lot with limited spaces, and we are right on the #33 Bus Route for the PVTA, with a bus stop right outside our building.
Our Food Pantry is limited to residents of Amherst, Belchertown, Deerfield, Granby, Hadley, Leverett, Pelham, Shutesbury, South Deerfield, South Hadley, Sunderland, Ware and Whately, and to those who are currently homeless.
Please note: there is no income, citizenship, or any other requirement for accessing the Food Pantry.
I’m here from another country. Can I come?
Absolutely! Welcome! Many members of our Amherst Survival Center community are international students and their spouses, recent and not so recent immigrants, refugees, and visitors. All are welcome at the Amherst Survival Center. There are no requirements for visas, citizenship, or ID to access our services.
We are working hard to make our services more accessible to speakers of other languages, including translating many written materials and utilizing the amazing language diversity of our volunteers.
Recently, we’ve heard many folks in our broader community express concern about new “Public Charge” laws and fears about immigration policy. We are not a governmental organization. We do not share any individual/personal information about our community members with anyone. We do not require identification to access any program. If you have more specific questions, you are welcome to call before you come in and speak to our Program Director. We’d like to help you feel comfortable coming and getting the resources you need.
How much do services at the Amherst Survival Center cost?
Everything is free thanks to our generous supporters, the businesses, groups, individuals, and religious organizations that donate to us, and all of our incredible volunteers! There should never be a reason why someone is charged for anything provided in the Center.
What is the schedule of programs at the Amherst Survival Center every week?
The Amherst Survival Center is open to the public from 11am-3pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays. We are open from 11am-7pm on Thursdays. The Food Pantry and Community Store are also open on the 3rd Saturday of the Month from 9:30-11:30am. We are closed to the public on Wednesdays.
Click here for full program schedule.
What do I need to bring to get food from the Amherst Survival Center’s Food Pantry?
The only thing you need to bring is proof of address for each member of the household (showing that you live in either Amherst, Belchertown, Deerfield,
Granby, Hadley, Leverett, Pelham, Shutesbury, South Deerfield, South Hadley, Sunderland, Ware or Whately).
Proof of address includes anything showing both name and address: a piece of mail, a letter from a landlord, a health card, report card, an ID, or a letter from another social service or benefits provider that has already verified your address (ie: Head Start, Fuel Assistance, social worker), see below.
For children under 18, if you do not have something that shows both name and address, it is also acceptable to provide documentation of their name (insurance card, birth certificate, school ID, etc.).
If providing a letter: Ask your case manager or worker to complete a letter on agency letterhead with the statement “I have verified that the following members of the household (list all names) reside at the following address (list full address).” The letter must be signed and dated and include contact information for the person writing it.
We do NOT require any photo ID or proof of income.
When you enroll for the first time, and once each year, you will be asked to spend about 5-10 minutes answering questions about your family, food preferences and income. Your self-report of income is for statistical purposes only. There is no income cap to access the food pantry. If you need food, you are welcome!
What if I want to volunteer?
Wonderful! Welcome to the community! We have a range of regular weekly and monthly shifts, one-time and group volunteer opportunities. We’d love to have you! See the volunteer page to learn more and get involved!
I’ve never been there – what should I expect when I walk in to the Amherst Survival Center?
Welcome! We’re so glad you decided to come. When you arrive, you will be asked one question— what town are you from? — there is no wrong answer! You will not be asked for any documentation or to fill out any forms*.
You are welcome to access any or all of the programs on your first visit.
*There is a brief intake to access the Food Pantry, and you will need proof of residency. Click here to learn more.
How often can I come?
You are welcome to come to the Amherst Survival Center every day that we are open. Access to our Food Pantry is limited to once a month*.
*if you ride the bus, walk or bike to the Food Pantry, you can inquire about the possibility of home delivery. Just let the person at the Food Pantry desk know.
When is the Amherst Survival Center closed?
We are closed on Labor Day, Thanksgiving, the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Memorial Day and July 4th.
We are open on Indigenous Peoples Day, Veterans Day, Presidents Day and Patriots Day.
In the event of inclement weather, we go by the Town of Amherst closures.
When we are open on days with inclement weather, in rare instances, we may limit program hours based on staffing and volunteer availability. These updates are posted on our facebook page.
Click here for our full schedule.
What’s for lunch at the Amherst Survival Center?
We distribute a to go lunch from 12pm-3pm on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. You may access it by waiting in the outside line. There is always salad, fruit, rice, vegetarian and meat entrees, vegetable and grain side dishes and dessert. There are some vegan and gluten-free options. Most of our produce comes from local businesses, and during the growing season, local farms.
We have a different team of volunteer who cooks each day (think about the show Chopped – they don’t know the ingredients, but they need to make lunch for 100 people in two hours…). Some have specialties (ie. curries, sandwiches, mexican, quiche). Every day it’s a delicious surprise.
How do I get produce from Fresh Food Distribution?
You can take home produce, ready to eat foods, breads, and desserts from Fresh Food Distribution every day we are open (except monthly Saturday hours). You can go through the Fresh Food Distribution line, which is the same line as the lunch line, once per day when you are here.
Fresh Food Distribution is stocked daily with produce recovered from farms and grocery stores — food they can’t sell (the bananas are ripe, there’s a bruise on the eggplant, they have too many zucchini, yesterday’s bread).
When you come to the Center, get a ticket from reception. We do not provide bags to carry your fresh food home, so please feel free to bring your own bags.
Is your Community Store open/accepting donations?
Due to Covid-19, the Community Store is temporarily closed and is not currently accepting donations. We still have some items available for individuals experiencing homelessness, such as socks, underwear, and sleeping bags. Please inquire with a staff member at the Center if you are interested.
Looking to donate items? Craig’s Doors is currently looking for cold weather items for adults, such as blue jeans, thermals/leggings, coats, sneakers, hiking/winter boots/sweatchirts, sweatpants, sweaters, new socks, and new underwear. You can set up a drop off time by calling (413)256-0704×1.
What happens on Thursday nights at the Amherst Survival Center?
Starting October 15th, the food pantry is open for pre-arranged curbside pickup from 5pm-7:30pm on Thursday nights. Stay tuned for more information regarding the sign up schedule!