(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2014)
A new partnership between St. Monica’s Food Pantry and South Boston Grows will help increase access to healthy food for South Boston’s needy, but what the two groups really need are volunteers.
Bob Conlin, 85, has been running the pantry for the past two years and said at times the amount of work can be daunting.
“There’s a lot work involved other than just giving out food,” said Conlin, a former South Boston resident who now lives in Dorchester. “You have to go pick up all the food, file the reports, and coordinate everything; it’s not always easy.”
Now with Phoebe Flemming, the president of South Boston Grows, acting as a co-coordinator, Conlin will hopefully see some relief, but the pantry still needs help.
“We really need volunteers to help continue the work here,” said Flemming. “We want to eventually start bringing in fresh foods, but we need people to help with that.”
The pantry, which is open every second and fourth Wednesday of the month, sees close to 100 individuals stop by to pick up items like milk, canned goods, cereal, and other staples; it is a life line for many.
“The food pantry is really important to the people around here,” said Martha Burguos, 62, a resident of the nearby McCormack housing development and pantry volunteer. “It helps people stretch their money and it helps them get good food.”
Those that do volunteer at the site, said it’s been rewarding.
“The friendships I’ve made here have been important,” said Jerry Woods, a 76-year-old Norfolk resident. “It’s great to come out and help people, many of which are in an awful situation.”
For Angel Morales, a 59-year-old South Boston resident and volunteer, it’s about giving back to his neighborhood.
“I like to talk with the people and try to find out what they need help with,” said Morales. “They come in and we try to help where we can.”
The pantry has been an institution in the neighborhood for decades and both Flemming and Conlin hope to continue that tradition, but with early morning pick-ups, food that needs to be stored, and plenty of hungry residents the more people that can help, the better.
“There’s a real need for the pantry and for the volunteers,” said Conlin. “Our biggest need is to find people to help out.”
Those interested in volunteering or donating resources should contact South Boston Grows at firstname.lastname@example.org.