To the Editor:
Rachel, you are not alone (Sept. 24, “Faces of Food Insecurity: ‘The issue is vegetables’”). The Greater Boston Food Bank reports 34 percent of those using pantries earn too much to qualify for government-provided emergency food assistance. Many hard-working people cannot meet their needs. On this Island, we know that our housing cost and seasonal employment issues only amplify this crisis.
Over the past year, the Island Food Pantry has made meeting healthy nutritional needs a priority. The Island Grown Initiative has been a huge factor in this effort, bringing us locally gleaned beets, corn, carrots, radishes, lettuces, and tomatoes. We will soon be the recipient again of their processed venison, as the hunting season begins. We have recently joined the Greater Boston Food Bank, giving us access to additional fresh produce and fruit — oranges, apples, bananas, peaches, grapes, plums, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, peppers, and lettuce. Through them we are also able to offer a great variety of frozen poultry, meat, and fish, vegetables and fruit, along with a good selection of dairy products.
Having healthy, fresh food on shelves in the pantry does not help if someone doesn’t feel comfortable coming in. We know this discomfort is a reality for many. We have worked to make the pantry a place where neighbors come to meet and support one another. We (usually) have coffee with a little bite of something; some days we have a bit of music. Twice a month, a public health nurse runs a wellness clinic. For kids, we have juice boxes or other snacks.
Life’s circumstances change from year to year and season to season. When resources, for whatever reason, are short, the Island Food Pantry is here to support you. We know when things change, you will be back to help as a volunteer or a donor, as so many of our former shoppers do. But right now if you, like Rachel, are needing to make hard decisions about food vs. other needs, you are welcome at the Island Food Pantry (corner of William and Church streets, Vineyard Haven.)
See you at the pantry.
Margaret Hannemann, director
Island Food Pantry