On any given Saturday morning, the basement of the Stone Church in Vineyard Haven is a frenzy of activity. A mountain of fresh produce is stacked on a table in the center of the room, and a crowd forms around it. A parent’s eyes widen when she realizes that today we have a surplus of apples, and we encourage her to take a few extra. An elderly man hands over a list of suggested foods to help ease a newly-diagnosed medical issue — we peruse the shelves, refrigerator and freezer together, and are able to find most of the items.

In the back of the pantry, a flurry of volunteers sort through a new round of food donations. Neighbors exchange warm greetings and recipes.

A shopper emerges onto Church street with enough food to get through to their next paycheck.

The Island Food Pantry is heading into summer with our busiest year to date. We’re helping 30 to 40 per cent more Islanders each month over last year, and providing a greater selection of nutritious food than ever before. Feeding America — the nation’s largest hunger relief organization — estimates that nine per cent of Dukes County residents and 12.9 per cent of our children experience food insecurity. At the Island Food Pantry, we’re making great strides to meet this need.

We’re only able to do so through the generosity of our community: through the hard work of our committed volunteers, through our partnerships with island organizations and businesses such as the Island Grown Initiative, the Martha’s Vineyard Food Equity Network, Friends of Family Planning and our local grocers and through individuals and families like you. Our financial donations underwrite all that we do. Please consider a donation — one-time or monthly — to enable us continue this mission.

Without this support, we do not exist. Thanks for remembering us this summer!

To learn more, or get involved, please visit www.islandfoodpantry.org.

Kayte Morris

Vineyard Haven

The writer is executive director of the Island Food Pantry of Martha’s Vineyard.