In 2008, organizers of Serving Hands food distribution decided struggling Vineyarders and their families needed help year round, so they began distributing food in the summer, too. The organization holds food distribution days on the Friday after the fourth Thursday of every month at the First Baptist Church in Vineyard Haven. Much of the food distributed comes from the food bank in Boston, but this summer produce will be donated from Island farms. And to meet the new supply and the ever increasing demand, produce will be given away every Friday beginning on August 1.
Volunteers have purchased CSA shares from places like Slip Away, Whippoorwill, Ghost Island, Thimble Farms and others to help those who may not be able to afford fresh vegetables.
Betty Burton, the director of Serving Hands, said she is most excited about the prospect of giving out fresh squash, eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, kale, cabbage and carrots grown on the Island.
“Last month we served 70 families, 132 total individuals,” she said. “This Friday we’ll have American cheese, whole chickens, eggs, raisins, pasta, cranberry juice and more to distribute, and then starting the following Friday, August 1, at noon, we’ll start distributing fresh local produce every Friday from now through the end of September.”
Ms. Burton said there is always room for more volunteers to help distribute the food items, and to deliver food or retrieve produce from the farms.
All families who are eligible are asked to bring their Island Food Pantry cards if they have them, and to bring their own bags. There are income guidelines. For example, to be eligible an individual must earn $1,800 a month or less, and for a household of four the monthly income level is $3,677 or less. There will be help available for registering.
Regular food distribution at the Baptist church will continue to occur just once a month — the next one taking place on Friday, July 25, beginning at 2 p.m.
Anyone interested in finding out more about Serving Hands, a free service of the Vineyard Committee on Hunger, may call Betty Burton at 508-693-5339 or visit hungercommittee.org.