For decades, the Grace Church’s Food Pantry on Saratoga Street has been an oasis for food-insecure families in East Boston.
Each week the Church’s Food Pantry at 760 Saratoga St. feeds 25 families on average but the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically increased those numbers.
With Eastie residents out of work or working reduced hours many are finding it hard to afford basic essentials like food.
“The Grace Church Food Pantry, prior to Covid-19, was serving an average of 25 East Boston families per week,” said Grace Church’s Jane Crapo. “Each family is given four bags of groceries and can come one Saturday each month. Since the onset of the virus, the amount of families has gone past 80 each week and reached close to 100 this past Saturday.”
This past Saturday, Crapo said the Church was able to give 92 families four bags of groceries each and the remainder of folks that arrived after the Food Pantry closed for the day were given grocery store gift cards that were donated to the Church.
“We’ve asked the folks that came to please come once a month, as that has been our practice all along,” said Crapo. “We have a very dedicated group of volunteers that can help distribute the food at the Church on Saturdays and we will be recruiting a few more to help as well.”
Last Thursday the Church held a food drive torestock the nearly empty shelves ahead of Saturday’s rush.
“The response to the food drive from the community was really awesome,” said Crapo. “We want to extend our sincere thanks to all who have donated food, money and time. Actual food donations at the Church help tremendously and cut down on our logistic challenges. The cash donations will go toward purchasing food from the Greater Boston Food Bank and local supermarkets going forward. I think it is fair to say that a realistic number of families we can help each Saturday would be 80 – 100 each week, providing we can keep the shelves stocked.”
During the Church’s virtual Church service this week Crapo mentioned to the congregation that there will continue to be a need to ask for food donations as Grace Church makes a commitment each week to feed struggling families.
“I will be at the Church each Sunday from noon till 2:00 p.m. if people would like to drop off their food donations then,” said Crapo.
For over two decades the Grace Church’s Food Pantry has become an important part of the fabric of the community. With limited funding to rely on, the Church has been able to move mountains and successfully run the Food Pantry that benefits Eastie families in need of nutritious meals throughout the week.