The following is a Christian Work Project sponsored in part by a grant from the Boston Baptist Social Union.
Bread of Life
* Bread of Life has been experiencing a dramatic increase in the need for our emergency food.
We provided 310,939 meal-equivalents through our food pantry, evening meals and grocery delivery to senior citizens in 2008, up from 251,222 in 2007. Our Food Pantry served 23,556 people in 2008 (counting each person each time they were served), up from 19,032 people in 2007 -- a 24% increase. About 47% of those we serve are from Malden, 24% from Everett, 13% from Melrose, 16% from Wakefield and surrounding areas.
Bread of Life's experience of increased demand is backed up by studies of food insecurity and hunger in the Commonwealth According to Project Bread/ The Walk for Hunger's 2008 Status Report on Hunger in Massachusetts:
- The latest data from the Census Bureau shows us that food insecurity and hunger among Massachusetts families increased an average of 6.2 percent in 2001-2003 to an average of 8.1 percent in 2004-2006.
- We are entering a new era of food insecurity; the numbers of food-insecure people are trending upward, and there is no evidence to suggest that this will change. As the costs of food insecurity and hunger ripple out across the state, they impact individuals and the economy as a whole - increasing our costs for health care and eroding our investment in public education.
- The same lack of resources that leads to food insecurity is directly linked to an increased vulnerability to obesity. The costs of obesity-related illnesses are staggering. For example, national estimates of obesity-associated hospital costs for children ages 6-17 more than tripled over a twenty-year period. In 1979, those costs were estimated at $35 million, and by 1999 costs had more than tripled to $127 million. Type II diabetes and hypertension were once considered diseases of middle age. Today, these conditions are found with increasing frequency among middle and high school-age children.
- The links between food insecurity and learning are also well-documented. Experts have established that even relatively mild exposure to hunger can impair a child's ability to learn. In comparison to well-fed children, food-insecure children perform more poorly on standardized tests, are restless and inattentive, and miss more days of school.
* Our Everett Food Pantry completed its first year operation serving 46% more households than anticipated.
On February 28, 2008 Bread of Life had the "grand opening" of the Everett Food Pantry which provides groceries for low- and moderate-income Everett residents only. The pantry is open every third and fourth Thursday on a walk-in basis from 3 to 5 pm at First United Parish, 460 Broadway in Everett. We originally anticipated serving 70 households per month in 2008, but we actually served 102 households per month (1,069 households for the 10.5 months of operation.) We estimate we will serve at least 10% more people in 2009, or an estimated 112 households per month.
* Bread of Life's evening meals are helping Malden residents cope with unemployment, high fuel and food costs.
We provide 34,000 free evening meals every year for local people in need. Over half of those we serve are from Malden. The evening meals serve 75 - 125 people each night: working people, families with kids, retired men and women, people who are disabled, and homeless individuals. About 450 volunteers from our 35 partner groups - churches, synagogues, Rotary Clubs, and high schools from Malden and nine surrounding cities - prepare and serve the evening meals every Tuesday through Friday evening at two downtown Malden churches: St. Paul's Parish and First Baptist Church.
* Bread of Life's Senior Nutrition Outreach provides groceries for 280 vulnerable seniors citizens every month.
This highly successful program, in its 5th full year, run in cooperation with Mystic Valley Elder Services (MVES), provides essential nutrition for senior citizens in public housing who have been identified by social workers as being nutritionally at risk. Many have chronic disabling conditions such as COPD, arthritis, diabetes, etc., which prevent them from leaving their apartments. Many are reliant on Meals on Wheels on a daily basis and need supplemental fresh fruits and vegetables, cereals and dairy products. We deliver groceries to 5 senior buildings located in Everett, Melrose and Wakefield.
* We are in our thirteenth year of running the Mobile Homeless Outreach MHO with Tri-City Community Action Program (Tri-CAP) to do intensive work with homeless individuals from Malden, Medford and Everet.
The MHO is a team approach to ending homelessness for individuals who have multiple barriers to staying housed: lack of income, mental or physical illness or addiction. Tri-CAP supervises three outreach workers who attend Bread of Life dinners to meet and help homeless people obtain shelter, housing, employment and medical, mental health, or substance abuse treatment. Bread of Life supplies blankets, gloves, hats, long underwear, socks, sweaters and coats, as well as referrals to hospitals, shelters and other food programs. We also use our box truck to pick up furniture for MHO clients as they become housed.
* On Thanksgiving and Christmas Bread of Life provides a community meal, and fills the gap left by no deliveries to the elderly by Meals on Wheels on those holidays.
At Thanksgiving time, our Food Pantry distributed turkeys and fixings to 400 families. We served 800 cooked meals throughly our "Don't Be Alone on Thanksgiving" meal at Malden High School, including delivery to over 360 senior citizens and 100 families that are homeless and sheltered in local motels. On Christmas Day we served 300 sit-down meals at St. Paul's Parish, and delivered 510 meals to senior citizens and homeless families. We also provided a new warm winter clothing item for each of our dinner guests.
- To pay for increased costs for our expanding food programs.
With a 24% increase in the numbers of people we are serving through our Food Pantry, we need resources to keep up with the demand. We have recently implemented two new suspended positions, Pantry Driver and BOL Transportation Coordinator, to help in recruiting, picking up and delivering food donations to supplement our food purchases. But we continue to be one of the top three purchasers of food at the Greater Boston Food Bank due to the large number of people we serve.
- To support our newest project: providing groceries for homeless families sheltered in local motels. Last Spring the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance began putting homeless families in motels on Broadway in Malden and Saugus We learned of it when staff at one motel in Malden (now sheltering 65 families) called to ask if we had any food we could bring for some of the families. 0ur Board of Directors was very concerned that we act to help these families. A couple on our Board began volunteering this past summer to make weekly deliveries of groceries from our pantry to one motel that shelters 24 families. Another Board member is a part-time employee of a motel that shelters 8 families. With our new BOL Transportation Coordinator, we are now able to be more regular in picking up food donations and delivering them to these families. For example, we pick up every week a van full of bread from Target in Saugus and 4 trays of ziti and meatballs from a local chef.