‘We’re very grateful’: Rep. McGovern touts recent donation to Grafton Food Bank

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‘We’re very grateful’: Rep. McGovern touts recent donation to Grafton Food Bank
Congressman Jim McGovern speaks during a visit to the Grafton Food Bank. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

GRAFTON – Congressman Jim McGovern joined local and agricultural leaders on Wednesday to highlight the recent donation of a refrigerator to the Grafton Food Bank.  

“I appreciate the food bank for all that you do in this community,” McGovern said. 

With the food bank being 100% volunteer-run, Board of Directors President Jessica Melo said streamlining their process is “essential.”

The food bank recently got a boost in that effort, receiving a new fridge from the Dairy Farmers of America (DFA).

“Having a larger refrigerator reduces the amount of purchases and trips we need to make to restock in between our distributions,” Melo said. “The timing of this donation truly could not have worked out more perfectly.” 

Food Bank sees increase in need

The Grafton Food Bank is located on the second floor of the Grafton Municipal Center. It has been the food bank’s home since the mid-1990s. 

Demand has increased in recent years, however, particularly spiking during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Melo.

Before the pandemic, there were about 100 families registered to use the food bank. That number swelled to 200 during the height of the crisis. Now, the volunteers estimate that there are about 130 families who come to the food bank every month.

Food insecurity and hunger, McGovern said, doesn’t fall into a “nice neat category.”

“Some of them are jobless [and] some of them are working – a lot of them are working,” McGovern said of people utilizing the food bank. “Some of them are young. Some of them are old and everything in between.”

He continued, “I think it’s really important that a facility like this exists to make sure that people are treated with respect and dignity and they have access to really good, nutritious food.”

National organization spearheads donation

DFA Director of Industry and Community Affairs Stephanie Walsh called McGovern a “champion for hunger” in comments on Wednesday.  

The DFA, meanwhile, is a national milk marketing cooperative based in Kansas City. 

At the start of the pandemic, one of the DFA’s farmers made a donation to start the organization’s Farmers Feeding Families Fund, according to Walsh. 

“[It was] specifically for funding for food banks to be able to pivot and serve dairy products during the pandemic,” Walsh said. 

The fund has since raised and donated funds and refrigeration equipment to over 600 communities across the country. 

Walsh said the nonprofit New England Dairy connected them to the Worcester County Food Bank, which in turn identified the need at the Grafton Food Bank.

This new refrigerator is more than twice the size of the food bank’s old refrigerator, which was also donated, Melo said.

Having this larger refrigerator has allowed the food bank to stock more perishables and dairy products while adding additional options for customers, Melo said.

McGovern said he appreciated the generosity of the dairy farmers, including local farmers, who made this donation possible. 

“Dairy farmers are doing this all across the country, and we’re really grateful,” McGovern said.

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