Church donates 41,695 pounds of food to local pantries in Massachusetts

Two Massachusetts food pantries will be able to distribute 42,000 more meals to hungry clients, thanks to donations from members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints worldwide.

Volunteers unloaded over 20 tons of nonperishable food from a tractor trailer into a warehouse in Rockland, Massachusetts, on June 4. The Church donated the 41,695 pounds of food to help two local food pantries provide for the stream of clients they’ve seen since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

One client who works the overnight shift at a local company slept in one of the food pantry’s parking lots so he could be first in line to receive food the next morning.

“This donation is made possible by the donations of our members across the world,” said Jared Heaton, president of the Hingham Massachusetts Stake. “We encourage members of the Church to volunteer their time and their financial resources to help those in need.

Jared Heaton, president of the Hingham Massachusetts Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, left, and Zane Atwood, Interfaith Social Services’ assistant food rescue driver, right, help unload boxes of cooking oil at Interfaith on June 4.
Jared Heaton, president of the Hingham Massachusetts Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, left, and Zane Atwood, Interfaith Social Services’ assistant food rescue driver, right, help unload boxes of cooking oil at Interfaith on June 4. Credit: Courtesy of Interfaith Social Services

“Right now we know we have many neighbors that are in need and are looking for help and assistance. At the end of the day, we try to follow the example of Jesus Christ, to help those in need.”

A mother of two young children was down to her last roll of toilet paper and couldn’t buy food at the store. But the Interfaith Social Services’ food pantry provided her with food, toilet paper, toiletries and even special treat baskets for her kids.

President Heaton said the June 4 donation and other large-scale food donations from the Church are the results of its farms, canning facilities and member contributions.

This donation will provide the equivalent of 42,000 meals to the clients of Interfaith Social Services and Weymouth Food Pantry, according to Interfaith Social Services.

Interfaith Social Services is a nonreligious multiservice organization founded by local community groups in 1947, according to Rick Doane, executive director of Interfaith Social Services.

Doane said as soon as the pandemic began, “a representative from the Church reached out because they were aware of our program’s increased need due to the pandemic.”

Each day, 25% of the food pantry’s clients continue to be first-time patrons, never having had to reach out for help before, said Doane. “We expect that number to climb.”

From left to right, Weymouth Food Pantry volunteers Samantha Coyle, Jessica Coyle, Janie Salani and Barbara Sargeant unload boxes of nonperishable food into a warehouse in Rockland on Thursday, June 4, to be distributed to South Shore residents in need.
From left to right, Weymouth Food Pantry volunteers Samantha Coyle, Jessica Coyle, Janie Salani and Barbara Sargeant unload boxes of nonperishable food into a warehouse in Rockland on Thursday, June 4, to be distributed to South Shore residents in need. Credit: Courtesy of Interfaith Social Services

He said some people are living in their cars “because they are scared of getting infected at crowded homeless shelters where social distancing is near-impossible.”

Food pantries have had a difficult time keeping their shelves stocked during the pandemic, and the Church’s donation of soup, pasta, canned vegetables, flour, sugar and shelf-stable milk will help the food pantries and, subsequently, the Massachusetts South Shore residents.

“We are serving more new clients than ever,” said Doane.

Jared F. Chrislip, communication director of the Boston Coordinating Council, said: “The local Church members are inspired and motivated to engage more directly and partner with others who also seek to do good. It’s like the pandemic, peoples’ desire to help and our Church’s ability to organize relief on such a scale have all come together to create an opening of hearts and minds where it didn’t feel so open just months ago.”