This van provided by BJ’s Charitable Foundation has increased Bread of Life's ability to access and distribute healthy food to their clients.

This van provided by BJ’s Charitable Foundation has increased Bread of Life’s ability to access and distribute healthy food to their clients, said Executive Director Tom Feagley.

A priority of The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) is to promote healthy lives and healthy communities. Currently, 25% of our annual 51 million pound distribution is fresh produce, and we are committed to increasing that to 35%.

To support this priority, we are helping our member agencies increase their storage and distribution capacities for the fresh foods they receive from GBFB through our Capacity Grant Initiative. Through Capacity Grants, member agency grantees can use funds to improve their infrastructure and reach in areas such as refrigeration, storage and transportation. In 2015, over 35 member agencies benefitted from our capacity grants.

The Greater Boston Food Bank received funds for a Capacity Grant through a partnership with Feeding America and BJ’s Charitable Foundation. We turned to one of our top member agencies, Bread of Life, to help them expand their capacity for distribution to clients.

Already, Bread of Life distributes almost 1.5 million meals annually while maintaining the highest standards in food safety, equal access, and community engagement. After reviewing barriers to expand Bread of Life’s four programs – two pantries, a mobile market, and a meal program – the agency determined that transportation would be the best investment, as they were relying on one van for all food transportation. An additional van would enable them pick up more perishable product such as fresh fruits and vegetables and lean proteins from local food producers, retailers and farmer’s markets.

Tom Feagley, Executive Director of Bread of Life, illustrated how the grant has impacted the community in Malden.  “The capacity grant from BJ’s Charitable Foundation has made a palatable, positive, impact on Bread of Life’s ability to serve our community. We work to serve the hungry, homeless, needy and isolated, and we rely on support from our funders to make this possible. The van provided by BJ’s Charitable Foundation has increased our ability to access and distribute healthy food to our constituents. We are hugely grateful for the work of our partners and for their commitment to vulnerable members of our community.”

BJ’s Charitable Foundation, a longtime supporter of GBFB’s mission to End Hunger Here, also funded two more agency grants, in addition to the capacity grant for Bread of Life. The grant exemplifies the continued investment that companies like BJ’s make to strategically invest in local social-service organizations that have a proven ability to enact positive change in their communities.

”By providing dedicated agencies, including Bread of Life, with resources they desperately need to grow, we were able to be part of the solution when it comes to ensuring vulnerable populations receive needed food,” said Jessica Newman, Assistant Vice President, Communications & Community Affairs, BJ’s Wholesale Club.

GBFB extends our gratitude to BJ’s Charitable Foundation for their investment in increasing the capacity of our partner agencies, and to Bread of Life for their continued dedication to help End Hunger Here. To learn more about GBFB or to donate, please visit www.GBFB.org.


Think small, big impact

Did you know that for every $1 donation, The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) can provide 3 healthy meals to those in need? That small amount can make a huge impact to someone in need this summer. We are able to do this because of our great relationships with food retailers, manufacturers and growers from whom we purchase healthy foods in bulk so we can maximize every donation.

In fact, 92% of every dollar donated goes directly to hunger relief efforts. This is why so many are eager to support GBFB’s mission to End Hunger Here – they know their contributions are used wisely and will have maximum impact. And, we’re inspired by some of the creative and simple ways some are showing their support!  Specifically, a few of our Kitchen Cabinet (KC) members have successfully mastered the concept of “think small…BIG impact”.

Recently, our KC Chair, Matt Goehlert, hosted a barbecue at his home, as he often does during the summer. Except, this year, he asked friends to bring a $25 donation to help feed our food insecure neighbors. He invited Team GBFB member, Erin Lee, to briefly speak to the group about GBFB’s mission to End Hunger Here. Many families attended with their children, which was a great way to teach the kids about giving back. The group went above and beyond and raised $630, enough to provide 1,890 healthy meals to those in need. By thinking small and enjoying time together, Matt and his friends also made a BIG impact.

“Pairing a barbecue with GBFB’s mission was important to us for a couple reasons, said Matt. “We wanted to raise awareness within our group of friends that GBFB is an important part of our community, and we wanted to provide an easy way for them to support GBFB by asking each guest to donate money instead of bringing something to the barbecue.  It was a fun way to bring people together and help a great organization.”

Another KC member, Hannah Krulewitch, hosted a yoga fundraiser for GBFB in her building. She invited her neighbors to a yoga class (taught by her college friend), followed by drinks and dinner in her apartment. She encouraged everyone to make a contribution in order to participate. Hannah and her neighbors raised $600 or enough to provide more than 1,800 healthy meals to those in need!

“Food has always been a celebrated part of my life – whether exploring new restaurants with friends or holiday cooking with my family. I am fortunate to not only know when my next meal is coming, but to find joy in the food that I eat,” Hannah explained. “That’s why it is important to me to spread awareness about my neighbors and peers who do not have that luxury. With the help of events like the yoga fundraiser, I hope that for more people, finding food to eat is not an obstacle to overcome,  but rather a brilliantly anticipated part of their day.”

So, this summer, as you gather with friends and family to enjoy the season, think small. A barbecue, book club or a group workout could make a BIG difference to others. This is a great way to engage your friends in a cause that matters and it takes minimal effort. Plus, it is in line with our commitment to promote healthy food and healthy lives throughout our communities.

We are excited to learn how you think small to make a big impact to End Hunger Here. If you host a fundraiser and want to share it with GBFB or invite a Team GBFB member to speak, email communications@gbfb.org. Hunger hurts, We Can Help.


Client Story: Meet Mindy

Mindy

Mindy and her three-year-old daughter live with Mindy’s parents in Medford. Her father is still working, but her mother had to stop due to illness. Like too many in eastern Massachusetts, even though a family member is working, Mindy’s family can’t afford the food they need to stay active and healthy.

She and her family receive healthy foods each month from The Greater Boston Food Bank’s (GBFB) Mobile Market at the Hallmark Health System, Women, Infants and Children (WIC) offices in Malden.

Mindy shares: “I came to WIC because I wanted my daughter to be healthy, and they have really helped me with all my struggles. I don’t know where I’d be without the people here.

“When my Mom got sick and had to stop working, we cut back on everything. There just wasn’t enough to pay all the bills. Plus, we realized the healthy food that is good for my daughter was expensive.


Mindy and books
“The monthly market at WIC makes a big difference for us. My mom and I shop together, and she loves the fresh vegetables and fruits they have. Cooking her special dishes for us makes her happy, and the meats and basics, like pasta and rice, that we get means we can save on our grocery budget. I can take that money and provide a better life for my daughter.

“I also started volunteering at the mobile market and, a few years ago, WIC hired me as a program assistant. I staff the front desk, and part of my job is to help with client registration for the GBFB food distribution.

“I’m so grateful for the help my family is receiving and the skills that I have learned, but I see others who are a lot worse off – people who are really struggling. I’m glad to see them getting help, and to be part of that work. Because there are many places in the world where there is no help. We’re lucky.”


Learn more about GBFB’s mobile market program and how you can help people like Mindy and her family.


Tina banner

Each July 4th, we gather our family and friends to celebrate at the beach or at a patriotic themed cookout. Yet, it’s also important to remember and thank the men and women of the United States Military for their services to defend our freedoms and country. After serving, many of these veterans fall on hard times and look to the Massachusetts emergency food system to avoid tough choices between purchasing food and necessities.  It is estimated that almost 26,000 Veterans in the Commonwealth depend on the SNAP program.

At least 26% of the households The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) serves have at least one member that has served in the military.

We help these friends and neighbors through our network of 550 member agencies and through our direct distribution programs, such as Veterans’ Mobile Markets.

One of GBFB’s many faces of hunger, Tina, is a disabled Air Force Veteran and client of the Fall River Veteran’s Center food pantry, which receives most of its food from GBFB. She is like so many in eastern Massachusetts who are struggling and can’t afford the food they need to avoid hunger and to stay active and healthy. Tina shared her story with us and GBFB thanks her for her work and dedication.

Tina

“I was born and raised here in Fall River, and am a die-hard Bruins fan. Members of my family were in the military, and I wanted to serve. So, since I loved flying planes I entered the Air Force. That’s where I met my husband. We had two daughters, and lived all over. Life was challenging, but good. But injuries forced me to stop working, and a few years back I went through a tough divorce. I needed help, and moved back to Fall River to be near my family. Now, I’m completely disabled, and it is very hard to make ends meet. When I reached out to the Veteran’s Association of Bristol County, I learned about their food pantry and other services.”

“The groceries I get there every month, including fresh produce, really make a difference to my very tight food budget.”
“I’ve also been able to give back by using my degree in programming to help with the Veteran’s Center computers. Lately, I’ve also been volunteering at the food pantry sorting, organizing and distributing food to local Veterans. We’re serving more than 160 men and women every month! It feels good to be around different people and to be helping others.”

“Personally, I could never give back as much as these people have given me, and I would do anything for them. It’s therapeutic. You know, sometimes you give and you can’t see whether you actually help someone. But here at the Veteran’s pantry, you see how you’re helping. People are so happy when they pick-up their bag of groceries. It brings a smile to my face. I’m so grateful.”

These citizens have given so much to our country and community and it’s important that we support them during times of need. This 4th of July, consider helping by providing nutritious food. Every $1 provides enough food for three healthy meals. Together, we can End Hunger Here.


Our partners at Stop & Shop and The Great American Milk Drive are holding a campaign this month in honor of National Dairy Month to generate awareness of the importance of drinking milk and to make milk donations to The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB). On your weekly grocery trip this week to your local Stop & Shop, you can easily make a milk donation that will help a family in need.

Donating is simple and easy!

1. Head to the Stop & Shop dairy aisle
2. Grab a voucher to make a $4 donation
3. At checkout, hand your voucher to the cashier

That’s all it takes to provide someone in need with the #1 item requested by GBFB.

GBFB has a strong commitment to promoting healthy lives and healthy communities by providing access to the most high-nutrient and healthy foods, such as milk. Milk is one of the most in-demand items for GBFB and our clients, and we are always looking for donations. This is because it is an essential staple and efficient way for food insecure people to get the important nutrients they need, like calcium, vitamin D and potassium. These nutrients may help better manage your weight, as well as reduce your risk for high blood pressure, osteoporosis and certain cancers.

Whether it’s protein to help build and repair the muscle tissue of active bodies or vitamin A to help maintain healthy skin, dairy products are a natural nutrient powerhouse. Those are just a few of the reasons that you should celebrate dairy not just in June, but all year long.

The Great American Milk Drive is a campaign that kicked off last year in partnership with Feeding America to generate awareness and increase food bank access to milk for food insecure individuals across our nation. So far, The Greater Boston Food Bank has distributed milk vouchers to purchase gallons of milk to over 4,000 individuals through our network of 550 member agencies.  Please help us increase this number by joining the campaign at your local Stop & Shop this week!

Learn more about The Great American Milk Drive and the need for more milk in our food bank system:

Together, we can End Hunger Here.