Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, who represents Everett and the Seventh Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, volunteered Saturday at the Everett Grace Food Pantry on Church Street.
Pressley joined members of her staff and other volunteers in distributing food to the hundreds of residents who came to the site, which has seen increased visits during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Pressley joined her staff, Pantry Managing Director Irene Cardillo, and other volunteers at the food distribution site as residents received various food items at the stations in line. Pressley helped out at her station from the 10 a.m. start to the finish of the food distribution effort.
Known for her forceful speeches and grand oratory, Pressley was received warmly by residents and volunteers, many of whom requested photos and chatted with the popular congresswoman. Pressley has emerged as a champion for those whose lives have been so negatively affected by the national health crisis.
“I’m just here as a volunteer and I brought five members of my team and we just wanted to come here and be in community – it’s incredible what Irene and so many others have been doing for so many years at the Everett Grace Food Pantry,” said Pressley.
Pressley noted the ten-year humanitarian effort at Grace Food Pantry, “but the need has only grown under COVID-19. It’s just inspiring to see how many people here care about their neighbors and care about community.”
Even before COVID-19 hit the nation hard, food insecurity and hunger were an issue, Pressley said.
“The need has only grown,” said Pressley. “In the American Rescue Plan, we have increased SNAP [Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program] benefits by 15 percent and in the Commonwealth there’s an additional $26 million allocated for food insecurity and I wanted to come and see this effort up close and personal so that I can go back to Washington and tell the story not only of the need, but how impactful these Federal investments have been.”
Pressley said the city, state, and federal delegations have been working together to address the need.
“We just can’t take our foot off the gas here,” said Pressley. “We have to continue to make these investments because being able to feed your family is the most basic need.”
Praising Cardillo and her team of volunteers, Pressley said, “What an incredible demonstration of grace at the Everett Grace Food Pantry. There is community here. There is acceptance here. There is dignity here. Because so many people feel shame about being hungry and that is a shame that anyone would feel that way. My hat goes off to Irene, the first responders, the Everett Police, and the Everett City Council members. There is something very special happening here.”
Cardillo thanked Pressley for volunteering in Everett and bringing awareness to the issue of food insecurity.
“By Congresswoman Pressley coming to Everett today to personally work on the line and really view the needs of our residents and how people have been affected by this pandemic, it’s good that she’s bringing more awareness to and the issue is being more highlighted,” said Cardillo. “And as you can see by the lines, food insecurities do not know any boundaries.”
Cardillo said the effort at the Grace Food Pantry continues seven days a week and includes satellite pantries.
The Grace Food Pantry director and lifelong Everett resident also credited Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria, Police Chief Steven Mazzie, Sgt. Robert Hall, all police officers, facility maintenance personnel, teachers and city leaders for making the food distribution “a true community effort.”
“It takes a village and we have a village of people in Everett that do all this work,” said Cardillo.