April 6, 2020 by Carol Britton Meyer (all photos courtesy of Dan Power)
At a time when many Hingham families are struggling with unemployment and trying to decide whether to buy groceries or to pay an overdue bill, the Hingham Food Project is helping to ensure that no one in town goes hungry during the COVID-19 crisis.
"Our mission is to make sure that everyone in town has enough food -- every day," said HinghamLink co-founder Dan Power. "We may be in this situation for the long haul."
The Hingham Food Project is a collaborative effort between the HinghamLink volunteer service that connects "people who want to help with people who need help" and the Hingham Food Pantry, Market2Day and the Hingham Farmers Market, the Fruit Center Marketplace, the Hingham Health Department, local restaurants and food trucks, and the South Shore Food Truck Association.
The Hingham Food Project was created out of a concern that senior citizens, disabled individuals, those on a fixed income, and others who are vulnerable might have to choose between staying home to remain safe from CODIV-19 or leaving their homes to grocery shop, or between paying for food or other necessities.
HinghamLink supports the Hingham Food Pantry's mission -- including picking up donations and dropping them off -- makes deliveries from the Fruit Center Marketplace and other grocery stores, supports Hingham restaurants offering take-out options, and connects residents with the Market2Day app -- which allows shoppers to browse through the offerings of virtual farmers markets and place an order that's delivered to their door.
This volunteer-driven group is collecting donations that will allow food trucks and the South Shore Food Truck Association to eventually deliver to people who are at risk.
The Hingham Food Pantry is serving an increasing number of families these days and is in need of occasional volunteers and food and monetary donations.
"What we're finding is that different demographics have different needs," Power said. "We hope that those finding themselves recently unemployed will feel comfortable contacting us or the Food Pantry for assistance."
Those on fixed incomes may not be impacted by unemployment but may not be able to get to the grocery store, so help with shopping and other errands available through the HinghamLink website -- hinghamlink.com -- comes in handy.
"Volunteers who are paired with those requesting assistance with grocery shopping realize they will be helping out over a period of time, unless something changes -- such as if a family member becomes available to help," Power said. "In the meantime, they have made a new friend."
Volunteers are available to make deliveries to Thaxter Park and the Lincoln School Apartments -- home to many of Hingham's older population -- working with a staff person to ensure social distancing guidelines are observed.
HinghamLink volunteers are now suggested to wear face masks since the Centers for Disease Control's recommendation this weekend to wear one when outside one's home, in situations where recommended social distancing is hard to maintain.
The Hingham Health Department has updated the list of all Hingham takeout food, curbside pickup, and delivery establishments (excluding grocery stores) as of April 1, including a phone number and the method of ordering, at https://www.hingham-ma.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=730. Buying gift cards also helps Hingham's eateries.
"Local restaurants need our support," Power said.
There are other offerings to come. In partnership with HinghamLink, the South Shore Food Truck Association -- a group of mobile vendors (food trucks, trailers, and pop-ups) serving the South Shore is preparing for the potential need to mobilize to bring food to at-risk residents who otherwise wouldn't be able to get food.
HinghamLink is accepting donations to help fund the Hingham Food Project, coordinating and providing volunteers, and getting the word out about available services through its website and Facebook group. For further information visit hinghamlink.com.