The Westfield Voice

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The Westfield Voice

The Westfield Voice

Food for Thought: A Zoom Conversation with Liz Wills O’Gilvie

Image Source: Westfield State University

On November 4th, from 6:30-8:00pm, Westfield had the favor of hosting Springfield’s superstar, Liz Wills-O’Gilvie over a zoom call.  

The zoom call was focused on increasing healthy food access and social awareness in the communities surrounding Greater Springfield, including Springfield itself. The Springfield “native,” although she moved around a bit, knew something had to change when her husband, an assistant principal for Springfield was giving away his lunches to hungry students.  

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O’Gilvie was also inspired by the civics aspect of hunger in the community. Many families were poor, and all they had to feed their children were fast food places such as Mc Donald’s, where there were multiple on each block of Greater Springfield.  

But it was not until two local community members who knocked on O’Gilvie’s door asking what she was going to feed her baby, that she knew she had to bring healthy food to the city, and that it would start with free meals for all students and gardens.  

Back to the reasons why children were going hungry. The sad statistics of Springfield are shown in the county health rankings. Springfield is ranked the worst for asthma in the state, and is ranked worst hypertension, obesity, and type II diabetes in the COUNTRY.

 What is even sadder is that most with these diseases are children who do not know any better.  

O’Gilvie’s logo for the organization she funded, Gardening The Community. Image source:

That is why the free meals and gardens that O’Gilvie and her wonderful team mean so much. The free meals have decreased the number of students complaining of not being able to focus due to not eating from a number in the thousands to just 300.  

The gardens have brought fresh produce to not just the students, but to their families. Few know this due to language barriers between SNAP card holders, but farm stores accept the food stamps. In fact, there is now a farm store in Greater Springfield, all thanks to O’Gilvie.  

During this zoom call, the present election was brought up with many video participants feeling anxious. With her quick wit and demanding personality, O’Gilvie firmly stated that she was not trying to influence the children in terms of politics. She was just trying to provide them with better resources.  

By the end of the call, I was glad to have made it. My mind was somewhere else for some of it, due to the shelter in place called, but a message stuck out to me the most. It was that food insecurity did not happen just in cities, it can happen down the street (like Greater Springfield) and that we must work together to combat it.  

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