Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, Fall River was already one of highest-need areas we serve. 16 percent of the city’s population is food-insecure—nearly double the percentage for all of Eastern Massachusetts. The impact of COVID-19 has created even greater need in this community.
Individuals have lost jobs and access to childcare. Kids have lost access to school meals. Seniors are isolated in their homes.
Anticipating the community’s increased need for emergency food assistance, YMCA Southcoast created and hosted its first mobile market with support from GBFB and Bristol Community College, another hunger-relief partner in Fall River that hosts one of GBFB’s monthly Mobile Markets. Together, we organized a drive-through mobile market in less than two days.
“Towards the end of the inaugural distribution, a woman pulled up and couldn’t help but start tearing up with joy to receive food,” said Stephanie Mancini, Executive Director of YMCA Southcoast. “She told me she had just lost her job and didn’t know how she was going to afford food. She was so grateful for what we were giving her. There are so many similar stories that we have encountered over the past few weeks.”
YMCA Southcoast hoped to serve 100 individuals during the two-hour distribution on Saturday, April 4. However, they far surpassed this mark, serving 128 families in the first half-hour alone—demonstrating an alarming increase in need during this crisis.
Stephanie heard thanks from many people who received food. She said one client wrote to her and said, “I am amazed at the amount of food you delivered. Especially all the fresh vegetables and fruit. It has been too long since I have been able to hold potatoes, onions and apples in my hands. I will be able to make so many meals for myself and I am beyond grateful.”
YMCA Southcoast has since hosted additional distributions, serving more than 390 households at it’s most recent Mobile Market. In addition to YMCA Southcoast, GBFB is working with our other partner food pantries, healthcare centers and social service providers in Fall River to accelerate our operations and meet this unprecedented demand.
We are all navigating this uncertain future together, and GBFB remains dedicated to ensuring our neighbors in need across Eastern Massachusetts have access to high-quality, healthy food.