By David Rosner, Contributing Writer
Grafton – Outreach and support from a number of local farms and organizations has helped the Grafton Food Bank care for area residents through the tough times of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Community Harvest Project, a separate non-profit that grows food only to give back their produce to various organizations, has honored a pre-pandemic commitment to donate to the Food Bank. Additionally, especially last summer, Grafton based Houlden Farm donated boxes of similar high-quality food.
The Grafton Public Schools also got involved, offering boxes of produce to the Food Bank and helping coordinate pickup times during the pandemic’s early days.
Those Community Harvest Project donations came in the form of pre-bagged, fresh produce. The Food Bank, at one point, distributed those goods twice per month to its clients via drive up services.
Grafton Food Bank serves community
The Grafton Food Bank as an organization has been aiding Grafton residents for more than twenty-five years.
Over those years, Food Bank leaders say they’ve grown their offerings to meet the increased needs of those experiencing food insecurity. They add that they’ve done so thanks to donations of time and money from benefactors and volunteers in the community.
Ninety-five percent of the monetary donations to the Food Bank’s non-profit organization go to the Food Bank itself, with the remaining five percent funding additional necessary food purchases and other operational costs. All donated food, meanwhile, goes to the Food Bank.
Before COVID-19, the Food Bank operated out of Grafton’s Municipal Center building. Usual protocol allowed Grafton residents to visit once per month, either on the second Tuesday or the fourth Thursday of the month.
With an allotment dependent on family size, Grafton residents shop the Food Bank’s grocery-store-style set up.
Adapting to COVID-19 through the present day
Standard operating procedures had to change as Grafton and the world shuddered under the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Municipal Center, for one, remained closed as of early March, 2021, prompting the Food Bank to get creative with its services.
“As anyone can imagine, trying to operate the Grafton Food Bank out of the Municipal Center during its extended closure has been incredibly challenging,” Food Bank President Jessica Melo told the Community Advocate, earlier this year. “Our Board has worked tirelessly to modify our traditional model and to pivot as needed to ensure that we are still able to meet the needs of families facing food insecurity in Grafton.”
Facing that need especially as it even grows with the surge in unemployment brought on by pandemic, the Food Bank has begun mailing monthly grocery store gift cards to clients while maintaining “a community resource list so [clients] know what they have access to” during the pandemic, according to Melo.
The GFB has been taking this approach from April 2020 through the present day.
Learn more about the Grafton Food Bank at: www.graftonfoodbank.org