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.
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.
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