Insights from Recipient Visits
At the beginning of the summer, Gretchen Nelson, head of the board’s Recipient Committee, and I scheduled visits to the amazing organizations that distribute our produce. With growing season in full swing, seeing our vegetables filling tables, shelves, and bags was clearly going to be powerful. I had been told that our produce is often the only fresh food many of these organizations receive on a weekly basis, but seeing it first-hand solidified why we do what we do at Gaining Ground.
With my car loaded with produce, we headed into The Pine Street Inn, a homeless shelter that provides 230,000 annually overnight beds, including breakfast and dinner. Our food supplements these meals and is used for their Food Services Training Program. The goal of the cooking program is to train their clients to work in the food services industry. Our produce allows them to identify, prepare, and cook with ingredients that are not readily available. It serves them when they graduate from the program and look to enter the workforce. Part of our new strategic plan is to increase the impact of our food, and Pine Street Inn is a perfect example of this greater impact through education.
Ruth, a loyal Gaining Ground volunteer, recently volunteered at the Bedford Food Pantry. Her description of her time is reminiscent of what we experienced at our visits to food pantries.
I worked in the pantry last Thursday and so enjoyed seeing all the beautiful produce that Gaining Ground contributed to the pantry. There were about 30 families who came by from 4:30 to 6:00, including five veterans from the new apartment complex recently opened at the Bedford VA for homeless vets.
Everyone chose from zucchini, summer squash, sweet onions, peppers, okra, white and red potatoes, eggplants, green beans, carrots, herbs, and gorgeous tomatoes. After everyone had left, the little remaining food was brought to another food pantry that operates on Saturdays. We did, however, get to choose one of those outrageously beautiful tomatoes for ourselves which was spectacular!!
As we continue our visits through the fall, I have no doubt the stories will be similar. We could not fulfill our mission without our recipient partners, and we are truly grateful for our partnerships.
To learn more about our current list of recipient partners:
Bedford Food Pantry
Boston Area Gleaners - Waltham
Community Teamwork/Head Start- Lowell
House of Hope - Lowell
Loaves and Fishes - Ayer
Lowell Transitional Living Center
Mill City Grows - Lowell
Open Table - Concord/Maynard
Pine Street Inn - Boston
Rosie’s Place - Boston
Sudbury Food Pantry
Westford Community Food Pantry