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Weymouth Food Pantry to launch regional food bank

Pamela Denholm, executive director of the Weymouth Food Pantry,  said the agency would launch a South Shore Food Bank to help the Greater Boston Food Bank distribute fresh produce and frozen groceries to food pantries in 18 South Shore communities.

"The South Shore Food Bank will serve food pantries,… in Quincy, Braintree, Weymouth, Hingham, Rockland, Cohasset, Hull, Scituate, Marshfield, Duxbury, Kingston, Holbrook, Whitman, Abington, Hanson, Halifax, East Bridgewater, Randolph, and Pembroke," she said.

Denholm said a driving force for creating the South Shore Food Bank is the Greater Boston Food Bank’s need to supply fresh produce and frozen goods to pantries quickly.

“Some food pantries on the South Shore could only access the Greater Boston Food Bank once or month or every two weeks,” she said. “If they could only get food once a month they would not have wonderful fresh food offerings. If they can access the Great Boston Food Bank more regularly, that will be a game-changer."

The food will be distributed in a new warehouse that’s being built in the Weymouth Food Pantry's storage facility at 40 Reservoir Drive in Rockland.

Denholm said the pantry could accommodate the warehouse because they have a loading platform for large trucks to deliver supplies.

“We will be adding…a big walk-in refrigerator that will be double the size of the existing footprint for our existing fridge," she said. “A lot of pantries have small walk-in fridges, but this will be like what you have seen in a grocery store. We will be able to wheel in food pallets, and the fridge should be installed by Thanksgiving. It’s on order and will arrive just in time for the holidays.”

Denholm said the facility is being enlarged to accommodate the walk-in refrigerator, an enlarged freezer, and the warehouse should be in operation for "three to four weeks."

"We are also installing pellet shelving so we can maximize each square inch of space," she said. "We are very excited."

The construction of the warehouse is being financed through a $70,000 grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts and a $50,000 state grant.

State Sen. Patrick O’Connor, R- Weymouth stated Massachusetts officials “appreciate everything the Weymouth Food Pantry does to ensure our neighbors are able to put healthy food on the table.”

"We've seen more families in the past year or two in need of the pantry's services, and the regional pickup and storage initiative will all them to meet the increased demand," he stated.

Weymouth Food Pantry board of directors Nicholas Bulens stated the COVID pandemic created unprecedented, historical challenges among food pantries across the region.

“….we all share a common mission: to ensure access to fresh, nutritious food for all,” he stated. “We hope the new South Shore Food Bank will make us stronger and more resilient as a region and also empower us as pantries to reach more people in need."

Greater Boston Food Bank Vice-President Jonathan Tetrault stated the COVID pandemic underscores the importance for communities to work together to help local food pantries provide healthy food to households in need.

“Weymouth Food Pantry is demonstrating how this can be done by thinking regionally and opening their facility as a shared delivery site,” he stated. “It will not only improve the efficiency of the Greater Boston Food Bank's network on the South Shore but also help to ensure that fresh, healthy food will be more readily available to food pantries in the surrounding towns.”

Ann Toland, director of the Marge Crispin Center in Braintree, said they are thrilled to be part of the Greater Boston Food Bank and their upcoming distribution plan.

"We have been treated so well by them," she said. "They are very generous to us. We can go on their website and pick what we need at low costs. We get meat, dairy products, and dry goods from them. We will be happy to do what they want to comply with their distribution. We have a food pantry this is open three days a week. We distribute food to elders and disabled people. We do about 40 deliveries each week and curbside deliveries to Braintree residents."

Toland said Crispin Center has experienced “a huge uptick” of food requests since the COVID pandemic took hold in March 2020.

“The board of health delivered groceries to families that had COVID,” she said. “The town has been generous with running food drives throughout the year. We have been very fortunate.”


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