Cargo Ventures CEO Jacob Citrin, who owns a stretch of industrial land along the Chelsea Creek that is used for freight forwarding, recently stepped up to help fight food insecurity in the neighborhood.
Seeing a tremendous need for food in East Boston during the COVID-19 pandemic as one a neighborhood with one of the highest rates of infection in the city, Cargo Ventures recently teamed up with the East Boston YMCA and the East Boston Community Soup Kitchen (EBCSK) to help these non-profits that are working collectively to fill gaps and make sure children and families have food on their tables.
East Boston Y Executive Director Joe Gaeta said each day the need grows and the ability to meet that need has to catch up and nonprofits are scrambling to be a catch-all in order to face the demand.
“Right when we think we have a steady stream to fill the need, it doubles the next day,” said Gaeta.
The Y is spearheading food distribution, along with the City of Boston and Project Bread, to make sure children and families receive healthy meals during the pandemic here in Eastie.
“We serve about 20,000 meals a week just out of Bremen Street,” says Gaeta. “Sometimes we run out and have to turn people away or refer them to another partner.”
Gaeta said Citrin and Cargo Ventures saw the need and immediately reached out to the Y and to the East Boston Community Soup Kitchen to see where they could fill these gaps.
Listening to each organization’s unique circumstance, they quickly mobilized support.
“During these difficult times, we are fortunate to be in a position that our team at Cargo Ventures can help community groups in need,” said Cargo Ventures spokesperson Pat Capogreco. “We are doing what we can to support our East Boston neighbors.”
Sandra Nijjar, Founder and Executive Director at the EBKSC sees the same need here in Eastie.
“My soup kitchen board of directors and I are speechless and incredibly grateful to Cargo Ventures because it’s been over two months and they have not missed one week of helping us help our most vulnerable neighbors, we help over 250 folks who are suffering from homelessness, hunger, addiction, mental illness and unemployment,” she said. “Cargo Ventures has been one of the main reasons my soup kitchen has been able to continue to provide food resources to our most vulnerable neighbors.”
Each Tuesday the EBCSK would open and serve the community directly; but because of the current situation, they have been forced to work more hands-off and were forced to find other methods to continue their work. Now Nijjar and her volunteers serve the community three days a week through contactless exchanges.
Due to the continued community partnership with Cargo Ventures, the East Boston Y is able to provide alternative options once normal food service runs out for the day for those in severe need.
Additionally, the Soup Kitchen is able now to reach remotely the community and to provide much needed assistance in real time.
“Seeing smiles on the faces of people from our community when we are able to provide them with life-sustaining services is what community is all about,” said Gaeta. “Its partners like Cargo Ventures and so many other local businesses in the community that make us Eastie Strong.”