St. Stephen’s Memorial Episcopal Church Rev. Gregory Perez said participating in the Walk for Hunger is another way the church’s food pantry can alleviate food insecurity in the Lynn community and across the state.
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LYNN – St. Stephen’s Food Pantry will participate in Project Bread’s 54th annual Walk for Hunger, which takes place on May 1.
The Lynn food pantry is participating in this event, which is billed as the nation’s oldest continuous pledge walk, for the first time through a program called The Commonwealth.
Sixty percent of all funds raised by teams participating through this program goes directly back to their organizations, to support their hunger-relief programs. The remaining 40 percent raised goes toward supporting the statewide anti-hunger effort, according to Project Bread, which describes itself as the leading statewide anti-hunger organization in Massachusetts.
Run by St. Stephen’s Memorial Episcopal Church, St. Stephen’s Food Pantry provides food to people in need in Lynn and surrounding communities.
The Rev. Gregory Perez was inspired to join a team on behalf of St. Stephen’s Memorial Episcopal Church by her husband, Douglas Flores, who is the chief operating officer at Project Bread. Perez has stated his goal is to raise $ 1,000 to help fund the transportation of donated food from the Greater Boston Food Bank in Boston to the Lynn-based pantry.
“During the pandemic, we have seen double the need in our community, as we served just over 3,000 households in 2019 and nearly 6,300 households in 2021,” said Perez. “Our clients are a diverse community of people, many of whom hail from Central America, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Russia, and India, and may not know or feel comfortable accessing nutrition resources available to them.
“We work to build their trust and not only fulfill their need of accessing food right now, but also work to ensure that other needs are met, including housing and clothing.”
St. Stephen’s Food Pantry, which is open on Fridays from 2:30 to 4 pm – aside from the first Friday of each month – offers bags of non-perishable goods, such as canned vegetables and peanut butter, and perishable items, such as locally- grown fruits and vegetables.
These food items are purchased by the organization and donated by individuals and organizations to ensure that residents of all ages have enough to eat. Volunteers who run the pantry speak both English and Spanish, and serve anyone who has a valid ID.
“We often refer clients to Project Bread’s FoodSource hotline to get more information on SNAP benefits,” said Perez. “Participating in the Walk for Hunger is another way we can alleviate food insecurity in our community and across the state.”
This year’s Walk for Hunger will be the third event to be done virtually, and is expected to raise more than $ 1 million to support Project Bread’s work to increase food access for people of all ages in Massachusetts. Thousands of people are expected to participate in the event, which is traditionally held on the first Sunday of each May on the Boston Common, according to Project Bread. Because of the virtual nature, participants can choose to walk safely in their own communities.
Money raised through the walk is funding Project Bread’s work to ensure children have reliable access to food, as well as directly helping individuals and families, and advocating at the state and federal levels for expedited and efficient relief for those in need.
Walk funds also support community organizations that help provide residents with access to food, and grants to ensure communities have the necessary resources to sustain and grow local anti-hunger programs. In 2021, 28 nonprofits participated in The Commonwealth program and raised more than $ 165,000 to support their own work, according to Project Bread.
“Currently, one in five Massachusetts households with children is struggling without enough to eat, and that number jumps dramatically for Black, brown, and immigrant households,” said Project Bread CEO Erin McAleer. “Participating in the Walk for Hunger is one way in which residents can take action to fund school and community meal sites and Massachusetts’ only statewide hotline that connects residents with a range of food resources, including SNAP assistance. We can drive community change together. ”
This year’s event will include virtual programming with McAleer and elected officials, as well as participants posting why they are walking to help end hunger and sharing their experiences along their neighborhood routes.
To register for the event and create a personal or team fundraising page for the Walk for Hunger or to make a donation, visit projectbread.org/walk or call 617-723-5000. There is no registration fee or fundraising minimum to participate.