Jul 31, 2018

Irma's Story

Irma and Daisy
Irma and Daisy

Roughly 1 in 10 residents of Lynn is food insecure. This means that 9,800 people living there cannot be sure day to day where their next meal is coming from. In a city where 20 percent of the population lives in poverty, The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) works tirelessly with community partners to provide nutritious food for all those in need.

In the last 12 months, GBFB distributed 1.2 million pounds of food in the city of Lynn, or the equivalent of 980,000 healthy meals. GBFB works with over a dozen partners at 20 different sites in Lynn to reach many different types of populations. In addition to food pantries, meal programs and emergency shelters, GBFB distributes healthy food at a  community college, community health center, senior center and an elementary school in Lynn.

Having a pantry impacts our school community directly, by attacking one of the most difficult academic barriers to learning, which is hunger,” said Laura Sanchez, social worker at the Connery School in Lynn, the site of one of GBFB’s nine School-based Pantries. “We are lucky to have this service.” The School-based Pantry in Lynn has been helping schoolchildren and their families for 5 years. Nearly 100 families take home 40 pounds of nutritious food every month. This year, for the first time ever, the pantry will distribute food during
the summer, helping families through the toughest time of the year.

Irma and her husband, Roberto, live paycheck to paycheck putting food on the table for their three small children in Lynn. Roberto has worked the same job as a hotel maintenance manager for 37 years. While he has steady employment, the family struggles to keep up with their rising rent and the high cost of living in Eastern Massachusetts. Irma, 38, said the family sometimes runs out of food at the end of the month as expenses add up and their food budget bottoms out. “Between paying bills, rent and everything else, we’re
just trying to survive,” she said.

Since 2014, The Greater Boston Food Bank has partnered with the Connery Elementary School in Lynn to run a monthly School-based Pantry for families in need. Irma’s three children—Casey, 13; Roberto, 12; and Daisy,
5—all either attended or currently attend the Connery School. Her two older children even volunteered at the School-based Pantry, helping carry boxes and bags of food, when they were members of the student council.

“This is a really rewarding opportunity for us,” Irma said. “It always helps out at the end of the month when we run out of food to fill our pantry.” Irma and other families at the school take home about 40 pounds of nutritious
food every month from the free, farmers market-style distribution. “We’re able to get a lot of vegetables from the pantry. Daisy loves the broccoli,” Irma said. “We also get milk, eggs, pasta, potatoes… we use everything
we bring home.”


The food usually lasts the family about two weeks, according to Irma. “[The School-based Pantry] helps financially because we’re running around trying to make ends meet,” she said. “And this helps us feed our kids.”

Links:

Apr 25, 2018

Joan's Story

Joan
Joan

The rising cost of living in Eastern Massachusetts makes it hard for many low-income families to put food on the table. It’s even harder with three generations under the same roof.

Joan, 67, and her retired husband, both disabled, welcomed their son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren into their South Shore home. However it proved a tight fit, and the multi-generational family moved to a larger apartment in Plymouth.

With a bigger household, the family’s food budget became overstretched. “Being disabled and not working put a real big strain on us financially and we needed some help,” Joan said. Shortly after moving to Plymouth, Joan started supplementing the family’s weekly food budget with trips to the Plymouth Salvation Army food pantry. One of 10 local member agencies, the pantry receives roughly 85 percent of the food it distributes from The Greater Boston Food Bank.

“The food pantry has been a godsend,” Joan said. “It’s been a huge help to us.” Joan takes home six bags of food every month for her and her family, which helps them get through the month on the family’s limited income. “We get meat, vegetables, milk, all nutritious stuff,” she said.

Her grandchildren especially love the fresh fruits and vegetables. Her 12-year-old grandson’s favorite is beets, and her 10-year-old granddaughter’s is brussels sprouts. “It helps our family eat a well-balanced meal, which is especially important when you have little kids,” Joan said. “They need to eat right. The food pantry’s been a lifesaver."

Joan at the Plymouth Salvation Army Food Pantry
Joan at the Plymouth Salvation Army Food Pantry

Links:

Jan 26, 2018

Erich's Story

Erich & His Family
Erich & His Family

Erich, a retired U.S. Army medic who served in Iraq, works as a physical therapy assistant at the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital in Bedford and is the sole breadwinner for his family of five.

“It’s a lot of mouths to feed,” Erich said.

Recently, The Greater Boston Food Bank partnered with the hospital to launch a free produce Mobile Market. Every month, patients and staff in need receive 25-30 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables.

The Mobile Market provides a week’s worth of food for Erich’s family, which includes three teenagers—ages 15, 16 and 18—who are all active in competitive sports.

“The food we get from the veterans hospital Mobile Market goes a long way when you’re feeding five,” he said. “I want my family to eat well, and this enables me to do that.”

Erich, 49, served in a war hospital in Iraq from 2006 to 2007, and has witnessed the struggle some veterans have transitioning back to civilian life.

They're just not used to asking for help,” Erich said. “They are so used to being self-sufficient.”

Many veterans who previously would not have asked for help are frequenting the free produce distribution, according to Erich.

“I tell as many people as I can about the Mobile Market, and they are always amazed at how much food they bring home and the quality of the food,” Erich said. “Veterans didn't ask for anything in return [for serving]. To have a civilian organization reaching out and helping them—it goes so much farther than they could ever imagine.”

 
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