Weymouth Food Pantry

– HERE FOR ALL OF US –

Celebrating 30 Years of #neighborlove

It was 30 years ago now that a couple neighbors got together to form a food co-op to help local families buy food at a discount. When they realized that some of their neighbors couldn't afford that food, more gathered to help form the Weymouth Food Pantry. The Food Pantry has grown to help nearly 1,000 local families at any one time (who needs assistance is always shifting as people find their way out of poverty while others get laid off, etc.). At its core, however, the organization is still the same: it's about neighbors helping neighbors– about a vision of Weymouth in which every family can sit down to dinner together at night without worry about where the food will come from. It's about #neighborlove.

Leading up to Valentine's Day, the Food Pantry will offer invitations (via social media) to engage our neighbors with kindness. In order to live in the sort of caring community in which nobody goes without, we have to get to know our neighbors and our neighborhoods. We call this our #neighborlove project and certainly hope you'll join in!

Look for the posts on social media as well as the in-person Community Soup Supper on Thursday, February 23, hosted by Old South Union Church. Bring a bowl, bring your family, bring your neighbors, bring an open heart, and drop in anytime between 5:00 and 7:30 p.m. for a warm bowl of soup (free!) and lively conversation with friends new and old. 

 

Summertime Abundance

Check out these tomatoes! It doesn't get more local than from a neighbor's backyard!

Check out these tomatoes! It doesn't get more local than from a neighbor's backyard!

Year-round we're always working to have fresh fruits and vegetables available, but at this point in the summer, our partnerships with backyard gardeners, the local farmer's market, and local farms and grocery stores are in full effect. 

Farmer's Market SNAP Program volunteers excited to be launching this new program.

Farmer's Market SNAP Program volunteers excited to be launching this new program.

For the second year in a row, we're collaborating with Keohane Funeral Home which provided free seedlings to backyard gardeners in June. The results of those gardening efforts are just beginning to appear on the Pantry's shelves: tomatoes, peppers, and zucchini galore. In addition to neighbors who stepped forward to help, the seedlings were also made available to families who use the Food Pantry so they could grow some of their own food if they had gardening space. 

This summer we've also launched a new partnership with the Weymouth Farmer's Market to double people's SNAP (aka food stamp) dollars at the market in order to make fresh, local produce accessible to every family, regardless of income. It works like this: you head to the Market Manager's table when you arrive and we'll run your EBT card for whatever amount you'd like and give you that money in "market bucks" which are small wooden tokens that will never expire. In addition, we'll give you twice the value of the amount you charged to your EBT card (up to $20 per day). So if you were to charge $20 to your EBT card, we'd give you $40 in market bucks to spend at the Farmer's Market. What a deal, right? 

Also, the system also enables us to charge debit cards at the Market Manager's table, which means it's not only people using EBT cards who are using the system, but anyone who'd like to use a card instead of cash at the market. We hope this will make using the system more comfortable for people. Thank you to our fantastic donors and volunteers who stepped forward from our Facebook page to make this program happen. It's definitely a community effort!

Speaking of community efforts, we're grateful to Weir River Farm in Hingham for the gorgeous summertime produce they've been donating. Another favorite has been all the strawberries BJs Weymouth has been donating. When they arrive, the smell permeates the Pantry like nothing else. We love it!

Thank you to all our collaborators, partners, volunteers and donors who are making it another bountiful summer of fresh fruits and veggies. 

Thank you, Weir River Farm!

Thank you, Weir River Farm!


Our New Home: Every Village in Weymouth

Dear Neighbors and Friends:

I’m very excited to be writing you with some good news about the Weymouth Food Pantry. As you know, we learned some time ago that the building that 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 for families who need to use the Pantry; 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. We were forced to face the reality that there is simply not another available space in Weymouth that can allow us to operate in the same way that we have been. 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 should be very proud! But it also means that we have yet to reach the other 45% of the people who still need help.

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 provide food for twice the number of people by distributing food directly within every village in Weymouth. Because this new design will also enable the organization to fit into a smaller building, finding a new home will now be easier and-- most assuredly-- less expensive.

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 of the families we aim to help have limited to no access to transportation. Having a single location as we’ve had in the past limits how many people are able to get to our doors to access emergency food when they need it. 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 the partner’s space and take it down within a couple of hours, taking any remains back to the warehouse. Families from each village in need of emergency food will be able to access a pop-up pantry nearby. After setting up a few pop-up pantries in East Weymouth, we will add more and more throughout town until we reach every village in town.

Service Times

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.

Volunteers

Our volunteers have always been the lifeblood of the Food Pantry and they will continue to be. All current volunteers will be needed in this new style of operating-- some at the warehouse and others at the pop-up pantries. We hope to convert the current Tuesday and Thursday morning distribution times to pop-up pantries at some point this summer and all the volunteers who currently power those distribution times will be needed at the pop-ups.

There are many good-hearted folks in town who want to help and as we branch into every village, more volunteer help will be needed. Since some of the pop-up pantries will be held on afternoons, nights, and weekends, volunteering should be easier for students as well as our neighbors who work 9 to 5.

Again, I couldn’t be more excited to share this news with you: with your support, we’re bringing our motto of “neighbors helping neighbors” alive in a village-by-village way. Thanks to all our generous donors, community partners, dedicated volunteers, and friends. Ending hunger in Weymouth is within reach. Let’s do it!

With tremendous gratitude,

Cas Casados, Director

PS: Seeking a way to help us reach our goal of ending hunger in Weymouth? Join us at the June 20 FRESH BITE 5K  or donate today.

 

Show Some #neighborlove!

With Valentine's Day around the corner, this is the time of year when we're extra-grateful for our loved ones. We here at the Food Pantry invite you to spread that goodness around your neighborhood and bring it on down to the Pantry. When you do, upload a photo of it to Instagram with the hashtag #neighborlove. Here are some inspiring ideas:

  1. Coordinate a food drive or fund drive at work or school. Here are some ideas.
  2. Next time you bake, make a little extra for a neighbor.
  3. Clear the snow off a neighbor's car.
  4. Invite a neighbor over for dinner. It's a great way to get to know one another or deepen existing ties.
  5. Host a movie night at your house and invite the whole block!
  6. Strike up a conversation. It could brighten someone's day!
  7. Donate your time or treasure to a neighborhood cause you believe in such as the Food Pantry.  :-)  Donate here

Want more ideas? Check out this great article from Mom It Forward. 

Be the reason someone believes in the goodness of people. –Karen Salmansohn