Staff Q&A: New Food Security Program Coordinator Felicia Massey

JFCS and PRISM Food Shelf of Golden Valley have an operating partnership to extend the capacities of both social service agencies to meet the needs of individuals and families experiencing financial hardship and/or food insecurity. Felicia Massey, who recently started as JFCS’ new Food Security Program Coordinator, spoke about how the program works to alleviate hunger.

Why did the Food Security Coordinator position appeal to you?

I feel everyone should have healthy food available to them – that is a right for all. When the Food Security Coordinator position became available, I jumped at the opportunity. I love the idea being able to serve clients in need of food, but also creating a community of resources. Food is a way of bringing people together at the table and fulfilling a human need. I come from the South and food has been a big part of my family history. My father was a chef; my mother even at 84 is a great southern cook. 

Two years into the pandemic, how has food insecurity changed (or not) since the pandemic started a couple years ago?

Originally, everyone was scrambling to find food, cobbling together different resources and food shelves had to adapt to the big increase in need while providing safe conditions for staff and volunteers. Things have stabilized a bit, but the increase in pandemic EBT money is often offset by the increase people are seeing when they buy groceries. Families are still in need and food shelves are still seeing record numbers of referrals.

Have supply chain issues and/or food price increases made an impact on food insecurity in the local community?

Labor storages are affecting the supply chain, farms, meatpacking plants, warehouses, distribution centers, transportation and manufacturing. These shortages have taken a toll on local communities – on how the food is being delivered to food shelves and groceries stores.

How does JFCS’ Food Security Program help alleviate challenges?

The JFCS Food Security Program can reach clients by providing emergency food boxes, helping people apply for SNAP and other benefits, referring people to local food shelves and other community resources. In 2021, JFCS started the Food for All program with support from the Stillman Family Foundation and we provided more than 48,000 individual snacks to community organizations to supplement their work with individuals and families.

JFCS is also part of Partners to End Hunger, a statewide coalition of organizations working to ease hunger in Minnesota. This year we will be working with our partners to increase limits on SNAP. I am excited to be able to work on this issue further upstream – preventing hunger before it happens.

Anything else you would like to add?

It fills my heart when I hear a client thanking me for the assistance of helping filling out a SNAP application or a referral for food. I feel I am doing my part in filling food insecurity.