BEVERLY – Ask any food bank about demand levels around the holidays and you’ll quickly know it’s through the roof.
Beverly Bootstraps is a nonprofit organization that provides assistance with everything from food to housing. It has been serving the people of Beverly for three decades.
Sue Gabriel, executive director of Beverly Bootstraps, said the organization helps about 9,000 people a year through food assistance programs, but they’re always looking to grow. “We knew there was a gap,” Gabriel said. “We know from the data we’re looking at that there are a lot of people who need some help with food.”
Their food bank has regular hours of operation, but Gabriel said some customers were unable to get in during those hours, so there needed to be a way to expand access.
Gabriel came up with “pantry lockers,” a system consisting of a series of rows and columns of lockers that open when a combination is entered. These are similar to the ones you might see at your favorite grocery store. However, these lockers are located outside and can be accessed 24/7.
“Our pantry is open from 10 a.m. to 6 a.m., but hunger is on 24/7,” said Gregory Ezell of Beverly Bootstraps. Not safe. But research shows it’s a growing problem in the United States.”
Of course there are other groups of people who would benefit from this opportunity.
Beverly Bootstraps said the lockers cost about $60,000, paid for through donations from the Food Bank of Greater Boston and other organizations.
Lockers will be available in January.
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