Despite the economy opening up more and more, Bread of Life saw the highest number of families ever accessing its Malden food pantry on June 19: 186 families served in two hours.
Prior to that, the need for the pantry had peaked at 185 families at the end of April during the height of the pandemic.
With the need for food continuing, so is the need for volunteers.
“Since the onset of the pandemic, Bread of Life has benefitted from an outpouring of volunteers from the community,” said Bread of Life Executive Director, Gabriella Snyder Stelmack, “But the good news that more and more people are returning to work means that we are losing great volunteers.”
Among those still struggling with food insecurity are those waiting to be called back to work, those waiting for unemployment benefits, families self-isolating with the virus, and elderly and disabled residents.
Former Bread of Life Director, Tom Feagley, spoke with some BOL volunteers recently to find out what inspired them to get involved. Many expressed the desire to help those in need, saying things like “I’m not working. School is closed until September. I want to help others in need;” “I want to make a positive difference. Bread of Life has been doing this as long as I remember,” “I’m in a position where I am able to do something meaningful to help others;” “I’ve always worked in social service. It’s part of who I am.” A teenaged boy who has been volunteering with the pantry for two years said “I like being part of a team doing good things.”
Many Bread of Life volunteers over the years first came to BOL when they needed help, as this volunteer recalled: “When I struggled to make ends meet a few years ago, Bread of Life kept me and my family afloat. Now I get to do the same for others.”
According to McKay Russo, BOL’s Pantry Coordinator, the pantry has been offering as many as 186 free food orders during its twice-weekly distribution. Each contains a minimum of 4 bags, nearly 40 pounds of quality food – double what the pantry was doing before COVID-19. Bread of Life initiated in March a free grocery delivery service to seniors, disabled and residents who need to self-isolate. Volunteers have delivered to over 500 households in 10 communities.
Volunteer Karen Buck said “Now I benefit from meeting other dedicated people and learning new skills. I am hooked!”
Feagley noted: “Although Bread of Life’s income has grown, it has not doubled. The pandemic hit just as they were ramping up their “Under One Roof” capital campaign. The goals are to develop the 54 Eastern Avenue site to include a commercial kitchen, dining room/multi-service hall, storage for food and supplies, walk in cooler and freezer, and offices. The development includes partnering with the nonprofit Metro North Housing Inc to build affordable efficiency apartments to house 14 single women and men leaving homelessness.”
Katie summed it up best: “I want to give hope.”
Feagley commented: “We are living in and through challenging times. Jobs disappear. Schools close. Bills go unpaid. People choose between paying full rent or buying food. Lives can fall apart. Much seems hopeless. Not so at Bread of Life.”
Opportunities to volunteer at Bread of Life include:
Malden Food Pantry
Tuesday through Friday, 12-5pm at 54 Eastern Ave., Malden
Contact: [email protected], 781-397-0404
Everett Food Distribution Grab “N Go
Every Thursday, in shifts:
• Load truck 8-10 am at 54 Eastern Ave Malden
• Unload truck 10am-12pm at Lafayette School, 117 Edith St., Everett
• Assemble food bags 12-3pm at Lafayette School
• Give out groceries 3-5pm at Lafayette School
• Clean up and load truck 5-6pm at Lafayette School
• Unload and shelve food 6-8pm at 54 Eastern Ave Malden
Contact: [email protected], 781-281-8302
Grocery Delivery Program to senior citizens, disabled and self-isolating residents:
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 54 Eastern Ave., Malden
Prep grocery orders 12-4pm
Deliver groceries 3:30-6:30pm
Contact: [email protected]
For more information visit www.breadoflifemalden.org.