No one should go to bed hungry. That’s the motto of the Brookline Food Pantry, an organization dedicated to ensuring that everyone has access to the healthy food we all need to thrive. In addition to this vital support, the Brookline Food Pantry is a source of community connection. “Kindness and connection are central to our work,” said Elizabeth Boen, Director of the Brookline Food Pantry. “We might be the one positive interaction in a client’s life that day, so we want to ensure we build genuine relationships so folks feel welcome, feel friendship, and feel that they can count on us for help.”
In March 2020, as the pandemic accelerated and stay-at-home orders were rapidly put in place, the Food Pantry faced its toughest challenge yet. “We weren’t sure we’d be allowed to remain open or how we were going to operate safely, but we knew that our community was going to need us more than ever,” said Elizabeth. They immediately switched to outdoor operations and put new protective protocols in place to keep clients, staff, and volunteers safe. At the same time, they saw community need skyrocket: they went from supporting 175 families per week to nearly 700, the Brookline Thrives backpack program went from serving 200 to 500 children per week, and even started a new delivery service.
But throughout this time, the Brookline Food Pantry has stayed true to its values and kept community front and center. They have stayed open every day since the start of the pandemic, and remain dedicated to providing food and support to all. “We’ve definitely learned how strong our organization truly is,” Elizabeth shared. And just as important, the Food Pantry remains a trusted source of support and connection. “Being a stable, reliable source of food for so many of our neighbors was truly a bright spot,” said Elizabeth. “Together with our volunteers and community, we could handle all of the challenges that were thrown our way!”