By Tom MacDonald
The demand for food at St. Mary-St. Catherine’s Harvest on Vine emergency food pantry has skyrocketed since COVID-19 hit. The number of families we serve has increased, and the amount of food we distribute has increased.
Men and women who worked in restaurants, hotels, bars, and other service industries are mostly out of work. Charlestown residents who worked at the Boston TD Garden and adjacent businesses have been laid off. Casino workers are out. The unemployment rate in Massachusetts has recently dropped, but it is still over 16%, which is the highest in the nation, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Harvest on Vine is designated an emergency food pantry. We’re here to feed families who are facing emergency circumstances. The Greater Boston Food Bank asked us to provide food to each family twice a month instead of once. They asked this in an effort to stave off hunger, especially among children. We said yes, of course. Harvest on Vine was able to say yes because of your generosity.
The Charlestown community has given us more support than we could have ever hoped for. Because of your charity, we have kept pace with the growing demand for food. You gave us the means to battle food insecurity in our midst, and as a result, promote food security. No family will go hungry in Charlestown.
The political leadership during the pandemic has been phenomenal. Our elected officials are in front of the crisis, addressing hunger with prompt action. Harvest on Vine is grateful to these leaders. In alphabetical order we thank Senator Sal DiDomenico, City Councilor Lydia Edwards, Attorney General Maura Healey, State Representative Dan Ryan (Dan has been at every distribution since the virus hit), Mayor Marty Walsh, and the mayor’s Charlestown liaison, Quinn Locke. We also thank Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, who checks in to see how we’re doing.
We are grateful for our volunteers, the backbone of the operation. The volunteers bag and distribute roughly 10 tons of food at each handout, and they do it smartly, following the state’s health guidelines. We say a special thanks to our trash-removal team, who break down boxes and fill dumpsters. No small task.
At Harvest on Vine we practice social distancing and wear masks. We distribute food outside, but with nearly 300 families in line each time out, the safeguards we take are put to the test. We are doing our best to keep everyone healthy, both clients and volunteers. We don’t want anybody to get sick.
It would be impossible for Harvest on Vine to accomplish its mission without the support of the entire Charlestown community. And for that we say thank you!