Island Grown Initiative (IGI) announced Tuesday that the organization has purchased an Oak Bluffs warehouse that will serve as a permanent home for the Island Food Pantry.
Currently, the Island Food Pantry is located at the P.A.Club in Oak Bluffs. Its lease with the Holy Ghost Association ends next year.
IGI purchased the 114-116 Dukes County Ave. property for $1.7 million. The organization expects to spend around $500,000 more to convert the existing building, which will require significant renovations and improvements.
“The pantry needs a secure location to serve the community,” IGI executive director Rebecca Haag said in a press release issued this week. “Converting an existing building saved IGI somewhere between three and five million dollars over building from scratch, and we’re not putting added pressure on local infrastructure … It was an opportunity we could not pass up.”
When completed, the new Food Pantry location will be able to accommodate large volumes of stored goods, and allow for accessible foot traffic. The site has onsite parking, and is on the VTA bus line.
According to IGI, 91 percent of the pantry’s registered clients reside in the three down-Island towns, which makes the new location ideal.
“Food insecurity on the Vineyard has grown exponentially,” IGI’s release says. “Twenty percent of Islanders pay more than 50 percent of their income on housing, forcing more and more families to seek food assistance, with elders and children making up one-third of the pantry’s client base. In 2019, the pantry had 742 unique visits a month; today that number has climbed to 2,000, with many choosing to shop or preorder online, with deliveries made by volunteers.”