Often thought of as a vacation destination for the wealthy, Martha’s Vineyard is no stranger to hunger. One in 11 people on Martha’s Vineyard is food insecure, the same rate as the rest of Eastern Massachusetts.
“The cost of living over here is unbelievable,” said Joe Capobianco, Good Shepard Parish director of food programs.
Historically, The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) only played a small part in providing food to those in need on the Vineyard. In recent years, however, GBFB has become the main source of healthy food for the island’s hunger-relief agencies by building strong relationships and expanding the agencies’ capacity to acquire, store and distribute healthy food.
In 2016, GBFB provided a $4,000 grant to the Edgartown Senior Center to offset the cost of ferry crossings. In 2018, we gave a $5,400 capacity grant to the Island Food Pantry and Good Shepherd Parish to purchase and share a new truck to pick up food at GBFB’s satellite docks in New Bedford and Harwich. This year we gave Good Shepherd $10,000 for an 8-by-12-foot outdoor walk-in freezer, to help store more produce and frozen items like Thanksgiving turkeys.
Because of this extra support, Good Shepard saw a 238 percent increase from 2018 to 2019 in pounds of food distributed from GBFB to our island neighbors.
“Without GBFB we couldn’t be doing this,” Joe said. “There’s not enough excess food [on the island], at no cost, to take care of the people in need.”