According to a recent press release, The Full Plate Project has extended the Mobile Market dates into the month of December for the distribution of food for those in need.

Working together to meet the historic rise in demand for food assistance and to bridge the gap in food insecurity in the region, YMCA Southcoast has partnered with The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) to launch The Full Plate Project. The partnership will operate at five Y branches including Dartmouth, Fall River, New Bedford, Swansea, and Wareham.

Partially funded by grants from Feeding America and the Yawkey Foundation through GBFB, The Full Plate Project seeks to alleviate hunger by hosting free food distribution sites at YMCA Southcoast branches, collaborating with local agencies to address food insecurity, and advocating for equal access to nutritious food for our neighbors.

“GBFB’s mission is to end hunger in Eastern Massachusetts by providing our neighbors in need the healthy food and resources they need to thrive,” said Catherine D’Amato, president and CEO of GBFB “To make this vision a reality we need ambitious community partners like YMCA Southcoast. We’re very grateful to partner and support their food distributions in Fall River, and this larger initiative to provide nutritious food throughout the Southcoast in response to the historic demand for food.”

One in eight people are projected to be food insecure in Eastern Massachusetts this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. When local pantries were forced to close this past April, the Y was called upon by GBFB to offer a food distribution in the parking lot of the Fall River branch. Fall River has one of the state’s highest food insecurity rates at 21.2 percent or more than one in five people in the city who do not have regular access to enough nutritious food.

The Y responded to the need with free food provided by GBFB and distributed more than 60,000 pounds of food in that first month. Since the opening of the first distribution in April, there have been more than 260,000 lbs. The goal of this partnership will be to distribute over 84,000 pounds monthly and 1 million pounds annually once Dartmouth hub and all markets are up and running.

“It was clear that this was a crisis, and with the current economic conditions, the need for food wasn’t going away anytime soon,” said Jim Scherer CEO & president at YMCA Southcoast. “The Y is committed to addressing food insecurity on a larger scale in the Southcoast region.”

Building on existing YMCA programs, the partnership supports the Y’s dedication to the belief that an individual will thrive when given access to a healthy lifestyle.

Jim Scherer added, “The basic need for a balanced, nutritious meal is essential for the health and growth of an individual. This partnership with The Greater Boston Food Bank allows us to now provide bags of groceries for our community and members on a regular basis.”

In November, YMCA Southcoast was able to increase its food distributions to five branches reaching nearly 1,000 households. To support the continued expansion of this program, work is currently underway in Dartmouth to build a storage facility that will serve as a hub for The Full Plate Project. The facility will have ample refrigeration and freezer space to serve the community with fresh produce and other in-demand perishable products.

A recent Fall River patron remarked, “I am amazed at the amount of food I received. Especially all the fresh vegetables and fruit. It has been too long since I have been able to hold potatoes, onions, and apples in my hands. I will be able to make so many meals and I am beyond grateful.”

The YMCA encourages anyone in need to visit one of their food distribution sites and take advantage of this free program. Open to all community members with no expectations, the program offers a little relief to anyone needing some extra groceries for their household.

The project relies on volunteers for bagging and distribution. Those interested in contributing to the program, please contact Claudia Arsenio at CArsenio@ymcasc.org
Participating Branch Schedules are available online HERE.

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