Cambridge Economic Opportunity Committee (CEOC) Food Pantry Awarded $34,560 Community Investment Grant from The Greater Boston Food Bank
Cambridge based Non-Profit to Use Community Investment Funds to Advance Local Hunger-Relief Efforts
The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB), the largest hunger-relief organization in New England, awarded $34,560 to Cambridge Economic Opportunity Committee (CEOC) to support its ability to combat hunger in the area, bolstering GBFB’s network of food agencies and advancing hunger-relief efforts across Eastern Massachusetts in response to an increased need for food in the state.
The annual grant program, originally founded in 2013, has now been investing in GBFB partner agencies for 10 years. This investment aims to strengthen CEOC’s ability to provide nutritious food to the Cambridge community and beyond. The grant will be used to fund a new walk-in freezer/refrigerator combo unit. CEOC’s current freezer and refrigerator are not fully functional: they are old and in frequent need of repairs, and thus we cannot rely on them for storage beyond our distribution days. This has limited the amount of fresh produce, meat, fish, and dairy that we can distribute.
As a GBFB partner, CEOC strives to center the voices of pantry patrons and alleviate hunger. In the summer of 2021, CEOC conducted interviews and focus groups with patrons from our food pantry, along with other food pantries in Cambridge, where we learned that patrons wanted more fresh fruits and vegetables, and more meat. In the summer of 2022, CEOC distributed a survey to over 150 pantry patrons inquiring about the specific food items within those categories were most highly desired. The surveys revealed that the most highly desired perishable foods were strawberries, oranges, corn, broccoli, greens, eggs, and milk. This grant will allow us to be more responsive to the pantry patron needs that came through in these surveys, and the needs that patrons express to us in the pantry on a daily basis. Food pantries are essential community resources with the opportunity and ability to provide individuals and families with healthy foods that meet their needs at no cost to the patron. Making healthy eating more accessible at our food pantry will greatly benefit the community; it will allow patrons to allocate their own money towards other things they need for themselves and their families, alleviating stress and promoting good health.
“We are so excited to be able to increase our cold storage capacity, thanks to the GBFB’s Community Investment Grant,” said Rachel Plummer, Associate Director at CEOC. “This grant will allow us to provide pantry patrons with more of the fresh produce, meat, and fish that best suits their household’s needs. We’ll be able to stock a wider variety so that our patrons can choose for themselves.”
This grant follows the release GBFB’s third annual report on food insecurity, equity and access in Massachusetts. The study, “Opportunities to Improve Food Equity & Access in Massachusetts,” reveals consistently high rates of food insecurity in the state and sustained disparities in food access for communities of color; with Hispanic, Black and LGBTQ+-identifying adults experiencing the highest rates of food insecurity.
“It is solely through collaboration with our network of partner agencies that we are able to address food insecurity across Eastern Massachusetts on such a large scale,” said Catherine D’Amato, president and CEO at GBFB. “In response to the sustained inequities in food access, we aim to continue to invest in those communities facing a heightened need for food and drive equitable progress towards hunger relief through strategic grantmaking to our network of partner agencies. As food costs continue to rise nationwide, we look forward to seeing how these funds bolster CEOC’s ability to provide nutritious meals to our neighbors in the Greater Boston community.”
About CEOC: CEOC is an anti-poverty nonprofit in Cambridge, MA. It was established in April 1965 as part of the federal “War on Poverty” and is a designated anti-poverty community action agency. Our mission is to empower people and mobilize resources to fight poverty’s causes and impacts through education and organizing. We provide direct services to low-income individuals and families (i.e., free tax preparation, SNAP applications, housing assistance, two food pantries, and more) and advocacy and outreach work in the community. To be most effective, we provide many of our services off-site in public housing developments, senior/disabled housing, senior centers, Head Start programs, and cultural organizations. We offer all of our programs in English, Spanish, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, Cape Verdean Creole, Tigrinya, and Amharic. You can follow us on Facebook (@CEOCCambridge), Twitter (@CEOCCambridge), Instagram (@CambridgeCEOC) and LinkedIn!
About the Greater Boston Food Bank: The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) is the largest hunger-relief organization in New England and among the largest food banks in the country. As the food bank for Eastern Massachusetts, GBFB is feeding people in 190 towns across the region, distributing the equivalent of nearly 90 million meals through a network of 600 dedicated food distribution partners and programs. A member of the national Feeding America network, GBFB’s mission is to end hunger here. The organization remains committed to the belief that access to healthy food is a human right regardless of an individual’s circumstances. Through policy, partnerships, and providing free, nutritious, and culturally responsive food, GBFB is committed to addressing the root causes of food insecurity while promoting racial, gender and economic equity in food access. For more information and to help us help others, visit us at GBFB.org, follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@gr8bosfoodbank) and Instagram, or call us at 617-427-5200.