Food Pantry

The Brookline Emergency Food Pantry, housed at St. Paul’s Church, is a community-wide effort to address a community-wide problem. The pantry provides free food to Brookline low income families and individuals who need additional food that they cannot afford to buy. The pantry is open ten hours per week--Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 2pm and Saturdays from 2pm to 4pm.

In 2010, we experienced a dramatic 25% increase in the number of visits to the pantry by both individuals and families. Over many years, the number of visits had gradually climbed to 2650 in 2009. In 2010 this jumped by an unprecedented 700 visits to 3350. In particular, there was a marked increase in families with children using the pantry. Thankfully, the amount of pantry donations continued to be robust and the number of volunteers increased so that these additional needs could 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 food ordering, shopping, food pickup and various 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 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 community event at 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 120 households. Desert for this Thanksgiving dinner was particularly a community effort. Students at the Lawrence School prepared 75 apple pies, a church youth group prepared 30 pies and four pies were prepared by children in one family. Trader Joe’s donated a great many beautiful bouquets of flowers.

Food Donations and Other Food Sources

Once a week we make a trip to the Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) to get 40 to 50 cases of free food. Ben Norton regularly does this each week with students from the BU Student Food Rescue group who provide some young muscles and a van. The pantry also purchases food from a food wholesaler and from local supermarkets.

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. On back-to-school night at the high school, parents were asked to bring food for the pantry. This was collected by Brookline High students and two vanloads of food were delivered to the pantry.

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 regularly donate food to the pantry during the year. Several families request that for their holiday open house, guests bring non-perishable food to be donated to the pantry.

Monetary Donations & Expenditures

Again, as in the last several years, the Brookline community responded very generously to the pantry’s end of year fund raising mailing. In addition, several communities of faith make annual donations to the pantry as do a number of Brookline businesses. Many Brookline residents also donate funds to the pantry throughout the year.

In June, Marge Amster at the Brookline Department of Economic Development and a group of Brookline restaurants created the third annual Food Festival in conjunction with the longstanding Brookline Arts Festival. All proceeds, over $5,000, were donated to the pantry.

As pantry use has increased, a very large increase in food purchases has been needed to supplement the free food from the Greater Boston Food Bank and the food donations from the Brookline community. The increased 700 pantry visits required total expenditures that were $30,000 more than in any past year.

2010 Food Pantry Receipts and Expenditures

Donations  Amount Expenditures

Amount

From Individuals $46,000 Food Purchases $64,900
Organizations & Events 17,000 Food Vouchers 6,900
        Operations      4,900
Total $63,000 $76,700

 The 2010 difference between donations and expenditures was made up from pantry funds accumulated in past years when donations exceeded expenses.

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

 Submitted by     Jim Margolis, Pantry Manager

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