WBZ Cares: Local Food Bank Has Deep Roots

Greater Boston Food Bank (Photo: Greater Boston Food Bank/Facebook)

BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- Each month, "WBZ Cares" highlights a worthy non-profit organization, and tells the story of what that organization does for the community. This month WBZ is profiling the Greater Boston Food Bank, which is working to end hunger in Eastern Massachusetts.

The Greater Boston Food Bank started out small, very small. It was founded by social activist Kip Tiernan in 1981.

Food Bank President Catherine D'Amato says Tiernan created the food bank as a way to help feed the guests at Rosie's Place, the women’s shelter she founded in the 1970's. She said they distributed 100,000 pounds out of the back of her station wagon in year one.

From its humble beginnings, the food bank now gives out six million pounds of food a month to member agencies throughout Eastern Massachusetts.

“In essence, we are the supplier and distributor to over 500 organizations in 190 cities and towns, providing food to pantries, kitchens, and shelters; the intersection where food is acquired, stored and then redistributed to charities who are feeding people directly,” D’Amato said. 

D’Amato estimates that one in ten people in Eastern Mass are food insecure. The mission of the food bank is to end hunger, one meal at a time and to provide at least one meal a day in to every one of the cities and towns they serve. She went on to say, “Today we are about 96 percent penetration. While we feel really good, we’re now going to think about how do we work to get to three meals a day.”

D'Amato has been with the food bank for 22 years. Charity and giving back were ingrained in her from the time she was eight years old. That's when her father owned a restaurant in Northern California.

“We always had people who begged for food at the back door. So very early on that lesson from my father was, you bring them in, and you sit them down and you feed them. So as a child, that lesson of ‘people should not have to work in exchange for food’ was very important,” D'Amato said.

So important, that life lesson now dictates the way D'Amato runs the food bank. She says, “Simply put, when we do our job, people eat. And when we don’t do our job, people don’t eat. They should never have to worry about being hungry. That’s what keeps me going.”

WBZ NewsRadio1030's Kim Tunnicliffe Reports

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