Food Pantry

The number of visits to the Brookline Emeregency Food Pantry by individuals and families in need of supplementary free food continues to increase—from under 1,000 in 2002 to over 2,000 in 2005 to 2,700 plus during this past year.    Thankfully, our donations and volunteers have increased so that these additional needs can be met.

Volunteers

The pantry is staffed entirely by volunteers.  There have been more than 30 volunteers this year.  Many volunteers give two or more hours assisting our clients while the pantry is open while others help with shopping and administrative tasks.  There is a wonderful caring relationship to be seen between these volunteers and many of our customers.

This fall there has been an amazing outpouring of new volunteers who have been most welcome.  At the same time there continues to be a core of long term volunteers who have been with the pantry for at least two years and, in some cases, more than five years.  Without these dedicated volunteers the pantry could not function and on behalf of our customers I thank them all.

Donations

The Pantry receives two kinds of donations:  food & cash that is used to purchase food.  Students at all of the public elementary schools in Brookline and some private schools now collect and bring food to the pantry on a regular basis.  One of the delights for volunteers is to greet these groups of children, some first 1st graders, and more often 7th or 8th graders, as they enthusiastically bring in many bags and boxes of food that their classes have collected and then help to sort the food into bins.  On back-to-school night at the high school, parents were asked to bring food for the pantry.  This was collected by students and two vanloads of food were delivered.

Many communities of faith in our town and organizations such as the Rotary Club and the Coolidge Corner Merchants Association make it a regular practice to support the pantry with food and/or funds.  The letter carriers food collection in the spring continues to be a very important source of food providing more than 75 bins each year.  A great many St. Paul’s parishioners and neighbors spend that Saturday afternoon in mid-May receiving and sorting the donations as the letter carriers bring in bin after bin.

Once a week we make a trip to the Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) to get 30 to 40 cases of free food through the MEFAP program funded by the Commonwealth.  Ben Norton, David Murray and/or I do this with a group of students from BU Student Food Rescue who provides a van.

Food Purchases

As pantry use has increased, an increase in food purchases has been needed to supplement donations and to keep the freezer fully stocked.  Therefore, donations of money have become increasingly important.  For the last three years our expenditures have averaged $34,000 per year.  For 2008 this has increased to $44,500.  While some of this increase reflects an increase in food prices, another reason for the increase is that our customers need to take greater amounts of food on their visits to the pantry.

Again, this year as in the last several years, the Brookline community has responded most generously to the needs of our less fortunate neighbors as the figures below demonstrate.


                                        2008 Receipts and Expenditures

Receipts                                                             Expenditures

From Individuals             $32,700                   Food Purchase     $38,000

From organizations           12,800                   Food Vouchers         5,900

   _______                  Operations                    600

Total    $45,500                                                 $44,500

Respectfully submitted by Jim Margolis, Pantry Manager

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