Mar 22, 2021

Dinora's Story

Like many seniors living on a fixed income, Dinora struggles to keep enough food in her cupboard, especially when trying to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A retired teacher, Dinora lives alone at the Julia Martin House, an apartment complex for seniors in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston. When the COVID-19 pandemic reached Massachusetts in early 2020, the building, like many others, went into lockdown.

“We had to stay only in our rooms at the beginning of COVID. I didn’t see anyone for a month,” Dinora said. “A lot of the people here don’t get outside at all to go shopping for food or anything.”

As the need for food in Eastern Massachusetts dramatically grew due to the pandemic, The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) began looking for new distribution methods and partners who could distribute large amounts of food to the community.

We began working with partners like the city of Boston, to directly distribute 20-pound boxes of fresh healthy food and some shelf-stable items to vulnerable residents across the city, including at senior housing complexes like the Julia Martin House.

“This food is so helpful. It’s good I can save some money,” said Dinora. “I get all kinds of fruits and vegetables, it’s about a week’s worth of food.”

With food insecurity on the rise across the country because of the pandemic, estimates show that food insecurity rates have increased more in Massachusetts than in any other state.

GBFB is distributing more food now than ever before in our 40-year history. Because of your generous support, we can continue getting healthy food and basic staples to people like Dinora, and all our neighbors struggling with hunger.

Dec 7, 2020

Keeping Waltham Healthy

When COVID-19 and the ensuing economic shock caused a surge in demand for food assistance this spring, community organizations across our service area stepped up to meet the need. In few places was this more apparent than Waltham.

“The increase in demand is something I’ve never seen before. These are my neighbors, families my kids play with, it’s surreal. And it has not slowed down,” said Myriam Michel, executive director of Healthy Waltham, a local health and wellness nonprofit.

Healthy Waltham began partnering with The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) four years ago by helping us run one of our School-based Pantries at the Waltham Public Schools. Before the pandemic, Healthy Waltham was serving about 250 families at the monthly School-based Pantry and about 100 senior households through additional food distributions.

Since COVID-19, however, Healthy Waltham has been serving 600 families each week, taking over the monthly distribution from the schools, and adding two additional distributions each month. They partnered with other local organizations like Brandeis University, the Waltham Rotary Club, local senior centers, and Africano Waltham, a Ugandan community organization to help Waltham residents in need.

According to Myriam, Healthy Waltham has served over 8,500 families and distributed over 250,000 pounds of food from April to September.

“I spoke to someone at the Market whose family member lost their job due to COVID. It’s been hard for them to pay their bills and buy groceries. COVID has had a big impact on this community,” Myriam said. “For many, our food pantries have been a lifeline. We couldn’t have done this without partners like GBFB.”

Nov 24, 2020

Your Support Helps Working Families

Cynthia and her boyfriend moved from New Jersey to New Bedford four years ago because it was cheaper to live, had more opportunities to work, and they wanted to start a family.

Like many working families, however, Cynthia and her boyfriend struggle to make ends meet and provide for their three young daughters.

“When our family started growing, so did our expenses,” she said.

Cynthia works as a medical assistant in the pediatrics department at The Greater New Bedford Community Health Center, where The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) holds one of its Mobile Markets—a free, monthly, farmer’s market-style food distribution. Cynthia said she looks forward to the Mobile Market for two reasons: how much money it saves her family, and the quality of the food.

“I love the Mobile Market. You have no idea how much it helps families. It’s incredible how much money we save because everything is so expensive in the supermarket,” she said. “We have to teach our kids to eat healthy, but the most expensive stuff in the supermarket are fruits and veggies. A bag of chips or a bottle of soda is cheaper than healthy food. So that’s why everybody here loves the Mobile Market.”

Working in a health center during a pandemic is stressful, Cynthia said, but because helping people is her passion, she enjoys her work. Cynthia returned from maternity leave in the spring, after the birth of her third daughter.

“Everything I save on food I can spend on diapers, baby formula, things like that,” she said.

Cynthia said what she loves most is the variety and quality of the food she receives.

“I got bananas and apples this month, next month its melons,” she said. “It’s all so fresh and yummy.”

Cynthia said the entire community gets excited each month when it’s time for the Mobile Market.

“It helps all the families who come here, a lot of them aren’t working, especially now with everything going on,” she said. “You make so many families so happy with this Market.”

 
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