In May, after an initial request of $10,000, Cambridge Savings Bank awarded ABCD $50,000 to support our food security programming for FY 2022. We are extremely grateful for this generous donation! Last year, ABCD provided clients with 206,481 meals. Funding from Cambridge Savings Bank will help improve the quantity, quality, choice and cultural relevance of food in our clients’ monthly food pantry baskets.
Food insecurity is a major concern for the vast majority of Massachusetts households living in poverty. The problem is more severe in Eastern Massachusetts. A May 2019 report by Feeding America revealed that Massachusetts has the highest food costs in the country, with residents of Eastern Massachusetts bearing the burden of the highest food costs in the state.
ABCD is committed to strengthening our food security program. Increasing the quantity of food available to clients is the beginning. Monthly, our food pantries distribute three large bags of food to clients. However, for most, especially those with larger families, this amount isn’t sufficient for the entire month. Even as the pandemic’s economic hardships ease, grocery prices continue to rise and food insecurity is still a major concern. While 2020 saw stark increases in food prices, the USDA reports that, “Food price increases are expected to be above the increases observed in 2020 and 2021”, increasing by 7 or 8 percent in 2022. Bringing more food into ABCD’s food pantries will help close the gaps in food insecurity.
Food insecurity refers to the lack of nutritious food, as well as the lack of food generally. Pantries often stock items with a long shelf life such as rice, beans, crackers and canned goods which are also distributed easily. Healthier options and fresh produce are an important aspect of diets, especially for low to moderate income populations who are more likely to live in neighborhoods that are food deserts – geographic areas in which residents have limited access to affordable and nutritious food, especially fruits and vegetables. This grant from Cambridge Savings Bank will allow us to offer more nutritious food which improves the overall well-being of our clients. You are what you eat.
Historically, for practical purposes, clients haven’t been able to make selections for their ABCD food pantry baskets. Religious dietary restrictions or food allergies also impact the food items that are appropriate for some clients. Funding from this grant will expand choice options in food pantry baskets, further empowering clients to make the most basic decisions for themselves – what they want to eat. This grant supports adaptive, flexible, and digital food pantry tools to ensure that elderly, handicapped, and chronically ill clients have easy access to appropriate foods. It also helps ease transportation-related burdens across all populations through the home delivery programs, contactless ordering systems and mobile food pantries that were developed in the last year.
Food pantries purchase from large retailers, wholesalers or food banks, and rely heavily on donations, which leads to stocking food that tends to cater to the palettes of white Americans. In FY 2020, over 80% of ABCD clients did not identify as white. Furthermore, 29% of Boston’s population was born outside of the U.S., largely hailing from China, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, India, Cape Verde, Vietnam, El Salvador, Columbia and Brazil. Funding from this grant will facilitate procurement of more culturally relevant food from a range of ethnic markets in Greater Boston.
ABCD would also like to thank Cambridge Savings Bank for their generous $50,000 investment over the last three years, supporting COVID relief and emergency food supplies at our Allston/Brighton Neighborhood Community Center. ABCD is delighted to partner with Cambridge Savings Bank on food security measures across the organization this year.