In these trying times thanks to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), food banks and other non-profit organizations become inundated with calls for assistance as people lose jobs, income or worse, get sick. This is why it’s so important for those with the ability to do so, to donate what they can, whether food, clothes or money.
One such company doing its part to less the burden, Winchester Co-operative Bank recently made a substantial donation to a local non-profit that helps local families in Winchester, Reading, Stoneham, Wakefield, and North Reading.
Bread of Life, a Malden-based based non-profit food distribution organization, has been awarded a $10,000 donation from Winchester Co-operative Bank for its capital campaign to build a new facility.
Founded in 1980, Bread of Life is a one of the largest providers and distributors of food to at risk families in the communities north of Boston. In 2019, Bread of Life served one million meals to hungry, homeless, and isolated families and individuals. Programs provided by Bread of Life include serving free evening meals four nights per week in Malden, and offering food pantry services to families residing in 10 communities: Malden, Medford, Everett, Saugus, Stoneham, Wakefield, Melrose, Reading, North Reading, and Winchester.
Bread of Life also delivers food to senior citizens in public housing and to at-risk teens and homeless families sheltered in local motels.
The company’s mission includes “feeding the body and nurturing the soul.”
They go on to note: “We strive to feed the hungry, the homeless, the needy and the isolated; to offer spiritual nurture, support and hospitality; to promote greater peace and justice by addressing broader issues of hunger, poverty and need; and to conduct our work in a spirit of respect and nonviolence.”
The organization distributes approximately one million free meals per year. Just last year, Bread of Life distributed nearly 1.5 million pounds of food, 632,000 pounds of which it acquired from the Greater Boston Food Bank.
The food bank’s CEO Catherine D’Amato said, “Bread of Life serves as a role model in communities north of Boston . . . always ready to lend support.”
The non-profit says it takes pride in its ability to “meet the increasing demand for services that have resulted from the economic challenges of the past decade.”
Of course, those challenges have since returned thanks to the coronavirus sweeping the globe. Even more people may now need the services of an organization like Bread of Life. Fortunately, the group also partners with local churches such as the Church of the Good Shepherd in Reading and Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Wakefield.
Bread of Life is currently working on an “Under One Roof Campaign” to build a new facility where all services can be provided in one building: kitchen, food pantries and a resource multi-service community hall. As part of the building project, 14 units of permanent affordable studio apartments for formerly homeless individuals and veterans will be built, to be owned and operated by the nonprofit Metro North Housing Corp. The Winchester Co-operative donation will benefit the Under One Roof Campaign. In honor of the donation, part of the landscape design will be named the Winchester Co-operative Bank Greenscape.
“We are excited to partner with Winchester Co-operative Bank as we ensure that Bread of Life is able to serve more people more efficiently well into the future,” said Gabriella Snyder Stelmack, Bread of Life Executive Director. “Bread of Life’s work helps improve health and nutrition for thousands of low-income and struggling families.”
There are some changes residents should be aware of due to Governor Charlie Baker’s recent stay-at-home advisory. These changes went into effect on Friday, March 13 and will remain in effect until Tuesday, March 31 at 11:30 a.m., according to the organization’s website.
They wrote: “Bread of Life is seeking to maintain a balance between keeping staff, volunteers and patrons safe from virus exposure, while also getting food to our most vulnerable neighbors.”
To that extent, the food pantry at 54 Eastern Ave. in Malden, which serves residents of Winchester, Stoneham, Reading, North Reading, and Wakefield, among others, will remain open on Wednesdays from 4 - 6 p.m. and Fridays from 2 - 4 p.m. The website notes hand sanitizer is available in several locations and public safety protocol information is posted.
“We have initiated an outdoor distribution to reduce or eliminate the waiting line, keep people at least six feet from each other, eliminate patrons entering our facility, and eliminate the need for people to congregate as they normally would in the hallways and waiting room. We ask people not to come if they are experiencing any symptoms of sickness, including sneezing, coughing or fever.”
The Everett Food Pantry is closed until further notice.
Bread of Life continues to welcome food donations, as the Centers for Disease Control and Greater Boston Food Bank haven’t suggested the US food supply is compromised by COVID-19.
“Bread of Life is happy to receive your perishable and non-perishable food donations for our food pantry at 54 Eastern Ave. in Malden, Tuesday - Friday, 12 - 5 p.m., as well as for our evening meals at First Baptist Church, corner of Main and Salem streets in Malden, Tuesday - Friday, 4 - 7 p.m.”
Unfortunately, the organization won’t be receiving any clothing donations at this time in order to minimize potential contact with the coronavirus.
The group also welcomes volunteers especially to its Malden Food Pantry on Wednesdays from 12 - 6 p.m. and Fridays from 12 - 5 p.m.
Some upcoming events have been postponed including a “Beer + Bites” event in Melrose and their annual golf tournament scheduled for July 27 at Mt. Hood Golf Course in Melrose.
For more information about Bread of Life and the Under One Roof Campaign, visit: www.breadoflifemalden.org.