The Food Pantry’s New Home: Every Village in Weymouth
May 4, 2015
Dear Food Pantry Users:
I’m very excited to be writing you with some good news about the Weymouth Food Pantry. As you may know, we learned some time ago that the building we have been housed in for the previous 28 years would be sold. Since then, we’ve spent a great deal time looking for the perfect space-- one with enough square footage to hold the tremendous variety of donated foods from all the caring people and businesses around town; enough parking to hold both our clients and the many dedicated volunteers who show up day in and day out to make sure every family has food on their table; in a central location that is easily accessible to you as a Pantry user; and at a price that enables us to keep our priorities where we believe they should stay-- on feeding people instead of paying for overhead.
Unfortunately, even after so much time spent looking and following leads, we were not able to find an available space that fit our needs as we currently operate. So, we decided that we had to start thinking outside the box to figure out how we might be able to fit into a smaller space. To figure out how we might do that, we looked at how other food pantries in Massachusetts operate, traveling up and down the state to gather both inspiration and data that would help us think more creatively about how to solve our space dilemma in a way that could work here in Weymouth. To help us to digest all that inspiration and data, we kept returning to our mission, asking ourselves, “How can what we’re seeing in these programs help us fulfill our mission to end hunger in Weymouth?”
Currently, 1 in 10 people in our town deal with occasional to regular hunger. Thanks to all the wonderful help from all of our volunteers and staff and donors, we’re serving 55% of those individuals (2,826 people) right now. That’s a wonderful accomplishment of which we are very proud! But it also means that we have yet to reach the other 45% of people out there who still need food.
After much deliberation, the Food Pantry’s Board of Directors has decided to seize the opportunity provided by our impending move to adopt a new operational design that will enable us to reach twice the number of people by distributing food directly within every village in Weymouth.
While we are really excited at the promise of being able to to help out so many more families, we’re also aware that changing our operations will be a challenging transition for us all, so I’d like to describe what changes are in store:
New Location & Pop-Up Pantries
Many users of the Pantry have limited to no access to transportation. Having a single location for the past 28 years has limited how many people are able to get to our doors. The new plan is to store all the food in a warehouse and distribute food at various distribution points throughout town that we’re calling “pop-up pantries.”
We will establish partnerships with churches, housing projects, schools, service organizations, and others willing to host a “pop-up pantry” in their space for 2-3 hours at a time. For each pop-up pantry, staff and volunteers will truck in everything that’s needed to set up a temporary distribution point in a partner’s space and take it down within a couple of hours, taking any remains back to the warehouse.
Our distribution times on Tuesday and Thursday will convert to pop-up pantries here in East Weymouth sometime this summer. When that happens, we’ll do our best to make sure you know about it well in advance. In the coming years, we’ll add more and more pop-up pantries around town, making it easier for you to get food right in your own neighborhood if you’d like to do that.
The second major hurdle many families experience in accessing the Food Pantry currently is our (mostly) morning hours. Working families need an array of options for food access, especially in the evenings and on weekends. To attend to this need, not only will the pop-up pantries be in every village, but they will span a range of times: mornings, afternoons, evenings, and weekends. This will increase the likelihood that a working family with limited time and a frequently-shifting schedule will be able to access emergency food at some point in their week. I hope this will make accessing the Pantry more convenient for you.
Again, I couldn’t be more excited to share this news with you. We want to put you-- users of the Pantry-- at the forefront of our operations. If you have ideas or feedback, let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, calling us at 781.331.7682 and leaving a voicemail message, or talking with your volunteer interviewer today.
With you in the struggle,
Cas Casados, Director