Beverly Bootstraps Food Need ‘More than Doubled’ Amid Coronavirus

The Beverly community organization will hold a “Drive-Thru Food Drive” to restock the shelves on Saturday.

BEVERLY, MA — Heather Johnston called Beverly a diverse city with pockets of wealth and pockets where people live paycheck to paycheck.

During the coronavirus health crisis, she said people from nearly all pockets of the city have reached out to Beverly Bootstraps for help with food and other necessities.

“Our numbers have more than doubled since March,” said Johnston, Beverly Bootstraps’ Director of Development and External Affairs. “We have seen some pretty significant growth. Even pre-COVID there was a wide variety of income levels in the community. What we’ve seen over the last couple of years is that it’s not always certain pockets. It might be your neighbor.”

She said that has been especially evident over the past six months of the health crisis and resulting economic downturn.

“Any little thing can set it off,” she said. “Then you throw in a pandemic and these people who are vulnerable find themselves in line at the food bank.”

Beverly Bootstraps is looking to restock the shelves on Saturday with its “Drive-Thru Food Drive” from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the parking lot on Park Street. Donors are asked to enter the parking lot through the Wallis Street entrance and the curbside drop off will allow donors to pop the trunk and have volunteers take the items in a contactless way.

“The summer is a lower time for food donations,” Johnston said. “Everybody is off on vacation, doing other things, so they don’t think about it as much do around the holidays or during the school year.”

The food drive falls on Hunger Action Day as part of a month-long effort to restock the shelves of local food pantries.

Johnston said the items most needed are cereals, canned vegetables and boxed pasta.

“One of the things we talk about is a sharing community and one of the things you can do this weekend is share food with your community,” she said.

Beverly Bootstraps has increased its efforts during the coronavirus crisis with a drop-off service for seniors so they don’t have to enter grocery stores, and they plan to extend the family food service “summer schedule” so families in need can visit the food bank once a week instead of once every two weeks. Beverly Bootstraps went from bi-weekly to weekly in the spring when students who were eligible were no longer getting reduced-cost lunches at school.

“It’s one of those things where it is out of sight, out of mind,” Johnston said. “When you are not thinking about the community as a whole and it’s not glaring in your face.”

For more information on the “Drive-Thru Food Drive” go here.


Revised Food Pantry Schedule for week of June 17 >>

Wed, June 19 - Agency and Thrift Shop will be closed for Juneteenth
Thur, June 20 - Agency will close at 5 pm for Boots & Blues