In just six months, the Chelsea Collaborative food pantry has gone from emergency distributions from Gladys Vega’s porch, to a full-scale food hub operation headquartered in an 18,000 square foot warehouse and serving 8,000+ individuals each week. The message from our community has been clear: if it weren’t for the Collaborative’s food pantry, thousands of families would be going hungry as the pandemic drags on.
We are proud and honored to be able to continue to expand this work, with support from so many new donors, community partners, the City of Chelsea, and others.
This week, we celebrated a major boost to our capacity, as we were selected by the USDA’s Farmers to Families program to receive 1,000 food boxes per day. With this support, we will be able to add additional food distribution days to our weekly schedule, while building permanent infrastructure for food security programs in Chelsea. We know that chronic food insecurity is nothing new to Chelsea, but with so many families feeling the economic and health impacts of the pandemic all at once, we’ve reached a crisis level. The Collaborative will continue our work to feed our families over the long-term.
Our gratitude goes to donors and volunteers that have sustained our food pantry this far, top among them City Councilor Roy Avellaneda who played a key role in helping us secure the USDA food boxes.
“I’m both very ecstatic and relieved that my advocacy for the Chelsea Collaborative to be a local partner for the USDA Phase 3 Farmers to Families Food Box program was approved,” said Roy Avellaneda. “The efforts of the Chelsea Collaborative in opening a pop up food pantry to respond to the needs of the community have been exemplary and literally life saving.”
The new USDA boxes will expand the foods available for families and will include farm-fresh ingredients, including 12 lbs of fruits and vegetables, a gallon of milk, 5 lbs of cheese and other dairy items, 5.5 lbs of fully-cooked meat, and 2 lbs of liquid eggs.
Earlier this summer, we expanded to a new location at 25 Sixth Street in Chelsea, where we have adequate space to sort, store, and distribute food donations. The space was generously donated for food pantry use by The Neighborhood Developers.
Moving forward, we are also investing in additional case managers, expanded educational and skill-building programs, and new leadership development initiatives to connect food pantry participants to the full range of opportunities they need to get back on their feet, find stability, and thrive as leaders in our community. Stay tuned for more updates on new programming to increase financial independence, housing stability, and immigrant leadership at the Collaborative.
As always, thank you for being on this journey with us and trusting us to lead this critical work in our Latinx community! We cannot do it alone.