Thanks to a generous grant from the Chester and Muriel Dawes Foundation, the Boothbay Region Food Pantry has purchased a van to replace the use of volunteers’ vehicles in the pick-up and delivery of food donated to the pantry.
The need for such a vehicle is great. Until now, volunteers’ cars and pick-up trucks have managed the heavy loads with difficulty and with much wear and tear to their vehicles. The new van is expected to greatly facilitate movement of massive quantities of donated food as well as delivery to shut-ins who cannot get to a regular pantry distribution and occasional deliveries to families who find themselves desperately needing food.
In 2018 trips three times a week moved nearly 33,000 pounds of donated food from our local supermarket to the pantry, including large pick-ups for our special Thanksgiving and Christmas food boxes. Trips out of town went to the pick-up location 12 miles away six times for the USDA Emergency Food Assistance Program delivery of up to 169 cases for a total of 12,902 pounds of food. In addition, there were weekly trips during the growing season to Twin Village Farms, 14 miles away for 6,200 pounds of produce, and three trips for produce to Morris Farm, 10 miles away. Annual mileage traveled for pantry needs is estimated to be between 2,500 and 3,500 miles.
The new vehicle is a 2019 Ford Transit Connect van. It provides 117.5” x 48.7”of cargo space. It has sliding doors on both sides as well as rear cargo doors, providing easy access for loading and unloading cases and boxes of food. The van has front-wheel drive, providing greater traction for safe driving, and, while adequate for pantry needs, it is not so large as to be intimidating to the pantry’s volunteer drivers.
Research and development of the proposal to buy a van for the pantry was carried out and presented to the pantry board for approval by a committee of pantry directors comprising John Lunt, Helen Meserve, Greg Barter, and Betsy Hastings. The van, which will reside in front of the food pantry door in the Congregational Church of Boothbay Harbor’s lower parking lot, was delivered on May 13 and will begin service immediately. Pantry directors would like to express their thanks to the grant writers, to the committee, and to the church for its ongoing helpfulness to the pantry.