A new motorized pantry could be on the streets as early as June.

Bus before the buildout.

Weymouth, MA: Mayor Hedlund and the Weymouth Food Pantry (WFP) recently announced a collaborative project to launch the first pantry bus in Massachusetts, a next-level expansion of the mobile pantry model. The Town of Weymouth, in partnership with WFP, will outfit a former school bus to operate as a transportable walk-in pantry. The new bus will provide nearly limitless capacity to reach households in need, regardless of distance or isolation. Mayor Hedlund has committed American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for the implementation of the project.

“The Weymouth Food Pantry is the gold standard for providing food assistance. With the need for food access on the rise due to COVID, this mobile pantry project will help us reach even more Weymouth residents and families,” said Mayor Robert Hedlund.

“Food access is an important piece of food security. This bus gives us the opportunity to build out specialized programs that expand how we meet the needs of our community,” said Pam Denholm, Executive Director of Weymouth Food Pantry. “It is a big commitment to ensuring Weymouth is a place where everybody can thrive.”

Town officials anticipate that the buildout of the bus will be complete by summer 2022. Amenities will include wall-to-wall shelving, fridge and freezer units, and storage for at least 3,000 pounds of fresh, frozen, and shelf-stable food. Once complete, the bus will be operated and maintained by WFP.

Ted Langill and John MacLeod with the Weymouth Food Pantry team. (L-R) Jim Odea, Ted Langill, Steve Manupelli, Treasa Downey, Jeanne McNaught, Annmarie Coyle, Angela Iaria, Nicholas Bulens, Pamela Denholm, John MacLeod, Harvey Welch.

The pantry bus represents a long-lasting investment in the future of Weymouth. Not only will the bus address transportation as a barrier to food assistance, but its multidimensional uses will better position the town to respond to future needs and emergencies.

“From day one, flexibility in our delivery model has been critical to addressing the staggering need for food assistance produced by COVID-19,” said Nicholas Bulens, Chair of the Weymouth Food Pantry Board of Directors. “This bus is the next level in flexibility. It’s an investment not just in the town’s recovery but in greater food security and in a more resilient Weymouth. We are incredibly grateful to Mayor Hedlund for making this project a reality.”

According to the Greater Boston Food Bank, Massachusetts saw the greatest percentage increase in food insecurity in the country in 2020, with a 47% increase over 2019. Based on projections from Feeding America, one in 10 individuals in Eastern Massachusetts were also expected to remain food insecure through 2021. The current rise in food costs, as well as the impending end to boosted federal nutrition and economic benefits, are anticipated to impact food insecurity into 2022.

About the Weymouth Food Pantry
The Weymouth Food Pantry is an independent 501(c)(3) public charity and hunger-relief organization, providing free groceries to approximately 3,600 people in Weymouth at any given time, between 60 and 115 families per service day, 450 and 600 families each month, and distributing about 350,000 pounds of food per year and growing. In a community where one in 10 residents struggles to afford food, the Weymouth Food Pantry offers food assistance and education through a variety of avenues, including weekly pop-up pantries, grocery deliveries to home-bound elders and people with disabilities, half-off pricing at the Weymouth Farmers Market, a weekend backpack program for elementary and middle school students, Thanksgiving and Holiday meal assistance, and workshops for basic home gardening skills.

Pop-Up Pantry (PUPs)
Tuesdays, 10:00am – 11:00am
       The First Church in Weymouth
       17 Church Street, Weymouth
Thursdays, 10:00am – 11:00am
       Crossroads Worship Center
       241 Broad Street, Weymouth
Saturdays – 10:00am – 11:00am
       Old South Union Church
       25 Columbian Street, Weymouth
       Enter at Torrey Street.

Pam Denholm, Executive Director