After moving to a new space with a large kitchen, the Beverly Bootstraps food pantry wanted to get its guests cooking healthier on a budget. Unfortunately, there weren’t enough appliances in the new building.
That’s where The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) came in.
Last year, GBFB partnered with BJ’s Charitable Foundation to distribute over $100,000 in capacity-building grants to its member agencies across Eastern Massachusetts. GBFB gave $2,300 to Beverly Bootstraps to buy a new oven, dishwasher, tables, pots and pans.
“It’s very liberating for us to have this equipment,” said Stephanie Tyler Smith, food assistance supervisor at Beverly Bootstraps.
The pantry was hosting cooking classes at Beverly High School but having this equipment on-site has allowed many more people to take the six-week-long classes. It also enables the pantry to hand out healthy food samples at distributions. Stephanie said those taking the classes are a mix of novice and skilled cooks looking to eat something healthy.
“A lot of people are there because their doctors tell them to eat healthier. The cooking instructors give them the tools to make dietary changes, like cutting out sodium or sugar,” she said.
According to Stephanie, many people try new foods and take nutritious food home they otherwise wouldn’t have if they weren’t able to taste a sample of it or learn how to use it in a cooking class.
“Every person who’s taken the class said it’s changed the way they think about meals,” Stephanie said.