The following questions are answered below:
- Can I come to the Amherst Survival Center?
- I’ve never been there – what should I expect when I walk in to the Amherst Survival Center?
- What do I need to bring to get food from the Amherst Survival Center’s Food Pantry?
- What’s for lunch at the Amherst Survival Center?
- How does the Amherst Survival Center’s Community Store work?
- What if I have medical needs?
- What’s the Fresh Food Distribution Program?
- What happens on Thursday nights at the Amherst Survival Center?
- What if I want to volunteer?
- How often can I come?
- When is the Amherst Survival Center closed?
- How much do services at the Amherst Survival Center cost?
- Does your Community Store take/accept furniture?
- What is the schedule of services that happen in the Amherst Survival Center every week?
1. Can I come to the Amherst Survival Center?
YES YOU CAN! The Amherst Survival Center is a fantastic community and resource center that is available to everyone. Most of our services are intake-free (all we ask is for you to tell us what town you live in). We have a parking lot with limited spaces, but we are right on the #33 Bus Route for the PVTA, with a bus stop right outside our building.
However, our Food Pantry is available to residents of Amherst, Belchertown, Deerfield, Granby, Hadley, Leverett, Pelham, Shutesbury, South Deerfield, South Hadley, Sunderland, Ware and Whately. The representative from the Salvation Army (Tuesdays 1:00pm-2:30pm) helps residents of Amherst and Hadley.
2. I’ve never been there – what should I expect when I walk in to the Amherst Survival Center?
If you come in when we first open (or before 11:30), it may be a bit crowded. But no matter what time you arrive, you will be asked what town you live in. Please let the receptionist know that this is your first time here. S/he will introduce you to the programs we offer and give you a little tour (Click here for a map of Amherst Survival Center services).
You will be offered a ticket with a number at the door. If you would like to get fresh bread and produce, take one. When your number is called (before 12 noon), give the ticket to the person calling the numbers and proceed to the Fresh Food area.
After 12pm, please take a ticket, but you don’t have to wait to hear your number – you can just walk in and give your ticket to the volunteer. (The Fresh Food Program closes from 12pm-12:30pm.)
If you arrive between noon and 12:45, plan to come for lunch. It’s an incredible meal.
3. What do I need to bring to get food from the Amherst Survival Center’s Food Pantry?
You will need to bring an ID, proof of address for each adult in 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 can include: a piece of mail, a letter from a landlord, or a drivers’ license. You’ll also need proof of address for each child in the household and this can include: a health card, report card, passport, or letter from a landlord. PLEASE NOTE: We do NOT require photo ID or proof of income.
Expect to take about 5 minutes to answer questions about your family, food preferences, and income. Once you are entered into our system, you can get a free groceries once a month.
The cart will be full of your choice of juice, cereal, rice, beans, tuna, peanut butter, soup, canned fruit and vegetables, pasta, canned tomatoes, frozen meat, bread and some weeks we have milk and eggs. We try to have fresh fruit and vegetables every day. This cart will have between 30-75 lbs of food (depending on your family size). More information on the Food Pantry here. We try and offer food for 5 days a month per person, monthly. Please feel free to bring reusable bags!
(Please come before 2:45 on Monday, Tuesday and Friday – or 6:45 on Thursdays – if you’d like to use the Food Pantry and/or the Community Store.)
4. What’s for lunch at the Amherst Survival Center?
We serve lunch from 12pm-1pm on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. There is always a fruit salad, a tossed salad, rice, vegetarian and meat entrees, vegetable and pasta side dishes and dessert. Most of the time there are vegan options as well. Most of our produce comes from local business, and during the growing season, local farms.
We have a different team of volunteer who cooks each day (think about the show Iron Chef – 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.
NEW! We also have a limited number of pre-assembled to-go lunches for people who can’t stay and join us for the meal. Go to the Program Director’s office to get one.
5. How does the Amherst Survival Center’s Community Store work?
One of the beautiful sentiments that Jane Holappa, the founder of the ASC had, was “through sharing there’s enough for everyone.” People in the greater Amherst community donate gently used clothing, children’s items, shoes, and household goods to The Community Store, trained volunteers sort through the donations and they are then displayed. Visitors are welcome to take up to ONE bag from The Community Store for their families each day they come to the Survival Center, the Store provides the bag.
Many people find themselves bringing things to The Community Store from their own homes before they start shopping for their “new” clothing. Feel free to do so.
We have seen an unprecedented number of shoppers in the past year. Please consider the other 150 daily shoppers when coming to the store. You can find more information on The Community Store here.
6. What if I have medical needs?
We highly recommend that you find a primary care physician. If you don’t have health insurance, come and speak to Brenda from Health Care for the Homeless – she can sign people up for MassHealth or Commonwealth Care on Thursday afternoons (1-3pm). You should also talk to a doctor. We have doctors who can see you in our Free Health Clinic’s two sessions. Our health clinic is scheduled for Monday afternoons (12:30pm-1:30pm) and Thursday evenings (4:30pm-5:30pm). Please sign up before the Clinic starts if you’d like to see a doctor. For more information on our health services, click here. You can also call the Center at 549-3968 to confirm the clinic schedule.
7. What’s the Fresh Food Distribution Program?
On Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday mornings, a group of wonderful volunteers go to local businesses and farms (during the season) to collect day old breads, pastries and fruit and vegetables that they can’t sell (the bananas are ripe, or one of the oranges in the bag is soft, or there’s a bruise on the eggplant). They bring the donations back to the Center, and another group of volunteers sorts them. From 11:00am-12:00pm and 12:30pm-closing, everyone is welcome to get a ticket with number (at the front door) and get up to three loaves of bread, a dessert and volunteers will distribute the produce (you will have choices, but there are limits based on availability). We do not provide bags to carry your fresh food home, so please feel free to bring your own bags.
We call out numbers from 11:00am-12:00pm and at 1:00pm-1:30pm (to manage the influx of people), but for the remainder of the day all you need to do is walk in and give your ticket to the volunteer.
You are welcome to come and enjoy the fresh food each day we’re open.
8. What happens on Thursday nights at the Amherst Survival Center?
The Food Pantry and The Community Store are open until 6:45pm. From 4:30-5:30pm, our health clinic is open, and there is a doctor here. And in addition to that… We typically show family friendly movies from 3:00pm-5:00pm and from 5:00pm-7:00pm. At times, instead of movies, we’ll sometimes have a music concert. We also may host healthy cooking classes during this time. Check the Center’s monthly schedule for more information.
We also serve a light dinner from 5:00pm-6:00pm. It consists of sandwiches, frozen dinners, pizza, and leftovers from lunch. At times a group of volunteers come to make something special.
9. What if I want to volunteer?
Thank you! Welcome to the community! Many people come here and want to give back. Find Carleen (or email her now at firstname.lastname@example.org) and she’ll let you know of the options that are available.
10. How often can I come?
You are welcome to come to the Amherst Survival Center each day that we are open. Access to our Food Pantry is limited to once a month.
11. When is the Amherst Survival Center closed?
We close 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 Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Presidents Day and Patriots Day. For more information on our schedule of operations, click here.
12. 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.
13. Does your Community Store take furniture?
No, our store does not accept donations of furniture. The Amherst Survival Center’s Trash to Treasure sale, which did collect and sell used furniture, is currently on hiatus. You can donate and buy used furniture at these places in the Valley.
14. What is the schedule of services that happen every week in the Amherst Survival Center?
Download the ASC Schedule of Services here