Food Pantry

The number of visits to the pantry by individuals and families in need of supplementary free food continues to increase—from under 1000 in ‘02 to over 2000 in ‘05 to almost 2700 during this past year. In particular, there has been a marked increase in families with children using the pantry.  Thankfully, pantry donations and volunteers have also increased so that these additional needs can be fully met.

Volunteers

The pantry is staffed entirely by volunteers---more than 40 this year.  Many volunteers give two or more hours assisting our clients while the pantry is open while others help with shopping, food pickup and administrative tasks.  There is a wonderful caring relationship to be seen between many of the volunteers and many of our customers.

This year we have been joined by a great many new volunteers who have been most welcome.  At the same time there continues to be a core group of long term volunteers who have been with the pantry for at least two years and, in some cases, closer to ten years.  Without these dedicated volunteers the pantry could not function and on behalf of our customers I thank them all.

Thanksgiving

An exciting event for the pantry occurs annually on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. On that day we give away over 100 turkeys and all of the other ingredients for a full Thanksgiving meal. This year we served 126 households--20 more than in any prior year.  As the desert for this meal we were able to give away 75 apple pies prepared by students at the Lawrence School (an annual service event for the school), 30 pies prepared by a church youth group, and six pies prepared by children in one family.

Renovation of Pantry Space

St. Paul’s did an extensive renovation this year which included the room used for the pantry.  As a result of the construction, the pantry moved to the Old Lincoln School in March and came back to St. Paul’s in August.  Walter Mucha deserves a very big thank you for moving the pantry both times.  We returned to new cabinets and tables and a much better lit and friendlier room from which to serve our customers.

In addition, the Rotary Club of Brookline donated $2,500 to the pantry to create a much more attractive and user friendly area for our trash and the great amount of cardboard that we need to recycle. We are most thankful to the club for this generous gift.

Food Donations and Other Food Sources

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 regularly does this with students from the BU Student Food Rescue group who provide some young muscles and a van.

Students at all of the public elementary schools in Brookline and some private schools have food drives 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 and organizations such as the Brookline 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 donated food providing more than 75 bins this year.  Each year over 30 volunteers devote a Saturday afternoon in mid-May to receiving and sorting the donations as the letter carriers bring in bin after bin.

Many families and individuals also donate food to the pantry.  Several families request that for their holiday open house, guests bring non-perishable food to be donated to the pantry.  Several groups and organizations are now doing this when they have meetings or gatherings.

Monetary Donations & Food Purchases

As pantry use has increased, an increase in food purchases has been needed to supplement food donations and to keep the freezer fully stocked.  Therefore, donations of money have become increasingly important.

In June, Marge Amster at the Brookline Department of Economic Development and a group of Brookline restaurants created the second annual Food Festival in conjunction with the longstanding Brookline Arts Festival.  All proceeds, over $7,000, were donated to the pantry.

Again, as in the last several years, the response to our November mailing to the Brookline community was responded to most generously.   In addition to the donated funds for the pantry shown below, $6,000 was donated through the pantry and marked to help fund the Brookline Safety Net which assists many pantry customers with other needs, especially those related to housing issues.

2009 Food Pantry Receipts and Expenditures

Donations Expenditures

From Individuals                        $39,500             Food Purchase     $33,200

From organizations                       9,100             Food Vouchers        3,000

       _______                  Operations          4,200

Total                 $48,600                                        $40,400

Pantry donors of both food and funds are most generous and I thank all on behalf of our Brookline neighbors who are our customers.

Submitted by     Jim Margolis

Pantry Manager

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