Making Fresh Food Accessible

Published on February 11, 2022

Bringing vital food to the senior community is a major priority for The Salem Pantry.

Every Wednesday morning, the Salem Pantry truck parks in the cul de sac of a senior housing authority in West Salem. Before the clock strikes 11 and the mobile distribution opens, volunteers have unloaded crisp vegetables, freshly- baked bread, chilled dairy and eggs, frozen proteins and other shelf-stable goods on tables.

Samantha Johnson, Manger of Operations at The Salem Pantry, shares, “We have two other locations to stop at today. We visit the same spots every day, every week. We bring food to the community where it’s needed most.”

For 45 minutes, the corner is hot. Many visitors are seniors living on limited or fixed incomes, retired and living nearby, looking for fresh food to supplement their diet.

Many individuals, like Peter, walk from their front doors to the sidewalk where bins of vegetables, glistening in the morning sun, wait. He uses a cane and has a volunteer help him pack his bag. Peter was recently discharged from the hospital, and as a person with diabetes and cancer, he requires a specific, health-focused diet. He appreciates the consistency of fresh food and shares that if not for The Greater Boston Food Bank, he fears he would go without.

GBFB Clients Ellen and Cecilia outside the Salem Pantry
Ellen and Cecilia visit The Salem Pantry’s mobile distributions regularly for the fresh produce provided by GBFB.

Ellen and Cecilia are neighbors and friends, living a couple of doors down from Peter. Both women live on limited, fixed incomes and admit that they would struggle to maintain proper nutrition without this access. Cecilia shares, “I can rely on the pantry to get what I need. Every week, I get potatoes, carrots and green beans. I love the kale—I enjoy putting it in my soups.” Ellen adds, “’During the winter, she makes great soup with the vegetables we get here.”

Cecilia uses a walker, and Ellen helps her navigate the bumpy sidewalk as the women make their way down the display of fresh garlic, eggplants and squash.

“I’m legally blind and have a bad hip, so I need extra help.” Cecilia explains, and Ellen comes in quickly, “But I don’t mind helping… plus, we live just right there. It’s changed our lives having The Salem Pantry, and GBFB bring fresh food to us. I don’t know what we’d do without you.”

One out of every five people served by GBFB is someone 60 years old or older. Cecilia, Ellen and Peter are just a few of the many seniors who need food but struggle to afford it.

Thanks to your continued generosity, the senior population across Eastern Massachusetts can count on us for the most critical of all basic needs: healthy, fulfilling and nutritious food.

Read more Stories of Hope and the impact of GBFB and our network of partners and supporters.

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