The Island Food Pantry has officially moved to its new home at the Portuguese American Club in Oak Bluffs.

Sharon Brown led tours of new facility Saturday. — Ray Ewing

At a grand opening Saturday afternoon, leaders at the food pantry and Island Grown Initiative (IGI) gave tours of the new facility, which opens for regular hours Monday.

“This will be transformational in a lot of ways,” said Kayte Morris, food pantry senior director.

“We’re going to have double the amount of fruits, vegetables and healthy products available in here because we have double the storage,” Ms. Morris said.

IGI and the food pantry merged in July.

The move to the PA club was announced early this month, after a two-year lease was signed with the nonprofit PA club for use of the front half of the building.

On Saturday Ms. Morris, IGI board member Margaret Hannemann and operations manager Sharon Brown showed socially-distanced guests and the Island press the large, open new space, with tidy rows of shelves stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables, canned goods and other staples.

There is also space for produce washing and preparation, a large walk-in refrigerator in the back room and two freezers by a loading bay. This spring there are plans to install a new outdoor walk-in freezer.

Pantry executive director Kayte Morris. — Ray Ewing

After 40 years at the United Methodist stone church in Vineyard Haven, the food pantry had begun to outgrow its small basement space at the downtown church — and then when the pandemic hit last year, demand fairly exploded.

“Every single one of us is thrilled but there is still much work to do,” Ms. Hannemann said Saturday. “We all are just passing through the one-year mark of a time that has been incredibly more devastating than any of us could have imagined.”

With plentiful parking, a VTA bus stop nearby, access for people with handicaps and a loading dock, the new location aims to serve the community better, organizers said.

“Just because you need help doesn’t mean you don’t have dignity. Just because you need help doesn’t mean you’re less than anybody else. You deserve to be treated like a person, you just need support,” said Ms. Brown, who lost both her jobs after the pandemic hit and became a pantry user herself after contributing to the program for years.

“I was one of the people they delivered to. I know how I felt having to go to the food pantry and how I felt people might look at me,” she said. “I was embarrassed but there’s no reason to be embarrassed. So many people need help.”

Pantry hours are Mondays 2-4 p.m., Wednesdays 1-6 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

“Food is just a basic right,” Ms. Hannemann said. “No one should have to worry about whether they’re going to have food on the table. Even more than that people shouldn’t have to feel bad about going and asking for it.”