Weymouth Food Pantry

– HERE FOR ALL OF US –

New Location for Weymouth Food Pantry

The Weymouth Food Pantry changed to the Pop-Up Pantry model in 2015. The driving force behind this decision was to improve access and create adaptable programming for people who need a little help making ends meet. Three years on, the Weymouth Food Pantry remains a cornerstone for residents in the Town of Weymouth requiring food assistance, and is now set to serve from a new location at The First Church in Weymouth.

This new location will help the pantry cover even more ground. “Our primary focus is always to make sure that people who need help, can get it,” says Pam Denholm, Executive Director for Weymouth Food Pantry, “and The First Church in Weymouth is not only on the bus line, but stretches our reach in a northerly direction, and gives us roots in new Weymouth neighborhoods.”

Denholm met Rev. Tom (T.C.) Coronite in July of this year to first explore the idea. The idea gained momentum with the full support of the church’s trustees, and in a truly congregational spirit, a unanimous vote from the parish. The First Church in Weymouth will open its doors to Weymouth Food Pantry customers for the first time on Tuesday, November 6th at 10:00am, and every Tuesday thereafter. "Our church is so excited to partner with the Weymouth Food Pantry. The history of our church has intertwined with the history of this town for almost 400 years, and we are thrilled to add another layer to our bonds of community, fellowship, and faith," said Rev. T.C. about the partnership.

With the holidays closing in, and the winter season not far away, this extension of service is timely. Weymouth Food Pantry is gearing up to serve more families this Thanksgiving and Holiday season than last year, and with higher than average summer numbers they are expecting a busy winter as the cost of heating adds an extra layer of financial pressure to many families struggling to make ends meet.

The new location is in addition to the original Pop-Up Pantry at the Hackett Center at Church of Immaculate Conception in East Weymouth, Old South Union Church offered to be a host the pantries on Saturday mornings. This not only helped the pantry reach residents in South Weymouth, but it is also a weekend option for those who work during the week.

“Our mission is to end hunger in Weymouth,” says Denholm, “and we are extremely thankful for the gracious hospitality of our hosts, who are also key partners in this undertaking. Together, we can ensure every Weymouth resident can have this basic need met, and the Town of Weymouth can be a place where we all can thrive.”

 Pam Denholm with Rev. TC Coronite on the front steps of First Church in Weymouth

Pam Denholm with Rev. TC Coronite on the front steps of First Church in Weymouth

Weymouth Food Pantry Appoints New Executive Director

Weymouth, MA – As the Weymouth Food Pantry ramps up for their summer programs and prepares for the Fresh Bite 5k run at Wompatuck State Park in June, the timing could not be more perfect to welcome newly appointed Executive Director, Pam Denholm.

Denholm spent eight years nurturing a community around food and brings previous non-profit and fundraising experience as well. She is the prior owner of South Shore Organics, a farm-to-home fresh produce delivery service bringing locally grown food from Massachusetts farmers to South Shore residents. Improving access to fresh, locally grown nutritious food was one of Denholm’s primary goals at South Shore Organics.

Pam Denholm replaces Cas Casados, who left the food pantry last year in October to move to the west coast. “Pam joins the pantry we are well positioned to expand the impact we can have on the City of Weymouth,” says Angela Iaria, who serves as Treasurer on the Board of Directors. “Our operations model is completely scalable, and we have the capacity to not only make sure hungry neighbors are fed, but that the food we offer is healthy and nutritious.”

When asked about her priorities, Denholm said, “We are focusing on programs to offer more fresh foods and healthy options to families in need in Weymouth. We would also like to reach more children in the Weymouth School system who experience food insecurity.” The Fresh Bite 5k fun run fundraiser is an important vehicle for the pantry to deliver on their mission to offer more fresh food. Other summer projects include a ‘Farm to Family’ initiative in collaboration with the Weymouth Farmers Market, and ‘Plant. Grow. Share.’—a program that mobilizes backyard gardeners to grow more food locally to eat, or share, depending on their needs.

“I’ve lived in countries where food insecurity is a reality for a majority of the population, but these communities still thrive.  What makes the difference is people, and the concern they show for each other. The Weymouth Food Pantry is innovative and creative in how it engages the community it serves and is well supported by its neighbors.   I’m very excited to be joining this team! Our goal is to make Weymouth just such a thriving community,” says Denholm.

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