Three Boston College offices have joined with the Greater Boston Food Bank and residents of the Commonwealth Housing Development to provide some of Brighton's neediest residents with basic groceries they would otherwise have difficulty obtaining.
The Food for Families program is a cooperative effort between the Alumni Association, the Community Affairs Office, the BC Neighborhood Center, the Food Bank and the Commonwealth Tenants Association. It utilizes donations of food obtained through the Food Bank, which are unloaded, sorted and packed by BC student and alumni volunteers, and made available to young families living in the public housing facility.
Alumni Association Associate Director Alan Quebec said the program began in February with 50 bags of groceries and has expanded every month since. This month, 100 families each received a bag of groceries worth about $35, he said, adding that the program's aim is to serve 200 families, and some elderly residents, within a few months.
Volunteers, including members of the women's basketball team led by Head Coach Cathy Inglese, helped pack grocery bags with items donated through the Greater Boston Food Bank at the Commonwealth Housing Development earlier this month. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)
Community Affairs Director Jean McKeigue said the program fills a need identified by neighborhood residents. After the program was suggested by the Food Bank, Community Affairs gathered groups of Brighton residents and asked where it could best be used. They identified young families in the Commonwealth Housing Development, many of whom have been hurt by cutbacks in government assistance, she said.
Community Affairs and the Alumni Association provided funding as well as alumni and staff volunteers. Neighborhood Center Assistant Director Richard "Moe" Maloney enlisted volunteers from the ranks of student-athletes.
"This program personifies Boston College's Jesuit tradition of serving others," McKeigue said. "And it's an opportunity to work with the Food Bank and make a positive impact on the lives of Brighton residents."
Casstrena Moses, resource coordinator for the tenants' association, said the monthly groceries are welcomed by the residents. "The program helps the residents affected by the Welfare Reform Act," she said. "It helps them spread out their expenses so they can spend what they do get from welfare on other necessities for their families."
The Food Bank and Alumni Association have a long-standing partnership in the Second Helping program, which provides surplus meals from hotels, restaurants and other sources to shelters and food kitchens in the Greater Boston area. The Food Bank also gathers donations of canned and other food not suitable for retail sale because of torn labels, minor dents or other cosmetic imperfections, Quebec said.
Some of that food is used in the Food for Families program and the emphasis is on providing the greatest nutritional value possible. Quebec said each bag of groceries includes high-protein foods, vegetables, rice and other nutritional staples. Some dry goods, like disposable diapers, also are included when available, he added.
McKeigue said the University has a long history of reaching out to Commonwealth Housing Development tenants. A tutoring effort involving BC student volunteers has been active there for more than a decade, she said, and the 4 Boston and PULSE programs each have a presence in the development.
Anyone interested in volunteering for the project should contact Maloney at ext. 2-0445.
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