Where Hurt, Hunger and Hope Collide
March 30, 2021 by Ally Donnelly
Feed the hungry. Help the hurting. They are simple, but massive missions. Interfaith Social Services in Quincy aims to do both. Founded in the 1940s after jobs building ships for the war dried up at the Quincy and Hingham Shipyards, Interfaith is home to the largest food pantry on the South Shore. The founders were forward thinking. They knew the trauma and struggle that came with food insecurity and poverty so established the New Directions Counseling Center at the same time–feeding body and mind. In this week’s episode we talk with a client of the counseling center who shares how Hingham therapist Clare Hagan helped him see his own value and get his life back on track after decades of addiction and loss. We also sat down with Interfaith’s Executive Director Rick Doane who shares the skyrocketing need the pandemic has delivered, but how the Hingham community and beyond is rallying to help.
Ally: How many families does the food pantry feed each month?
Rick Doane: Each month, we are serving about three thousand people. A lot of what we count is the food going out. And we're distributing about five thousand bags of groceries every month.
Ally: In the beginning of the pandemic, the pace was frantic at the pantry.
Doane: It was but it got worse. You know, honestly, those first couple months of the pandemic, one of our biggest challenges weren't the crowds of people coming out. The biggest challenge was food sourcing at that point. You had the runs on the grocery stores and food wasn't as reliable. The biggest upticks we saw were end of August, beginning of September. That's when we saw our numbers take a huge jump. December of 2020, we served fifty percent more people than we did the previous December. We were distributing three, four thousand bags of groceries a month. Now we're distributing upwards of five thousand bags of groceries a month.
Ally: What does it look like at the pantry right now?
Doane: The line of cars is down the street. You have people lined up at the door who walked to access our services. It used to be that this was all behind closed doors, you know, people would come in to get food and they would wait in our waiting room and they'd leave. Now, when the community drives by our building, they have a visual representation of hunger in their community.
Ally: What does hunger look like as you see it? Right now on the South Shore?
Doane: Hunger looks like any group setting, any supermarket, any school. People have this idea about homelessness and hunger. And they link those two things together. And so when they hear hunger, they think of somebody sleeping on a park bench. Now in reality that doesn't represent homelessness. That's not what homelessness looks like. And it's definitely not what hunger looks like. People in our community need help. Thirty percent of our clients are new, every month, every week. These are people who have never had to reach out for help before. People who are struggling, and are humble enough to ask for help. So that's what the faces when you look down, and you see the people waiting to get food. You see humble people, you see happy people, people who are grateful for the food that they're being served.
Several drives are happening around Hingham to support Interfaith’s food pantry. Tryst Studio on the Square is donating 10 percent of every facial booked in April to Interfaith. There is also a collection box between Tryst and AZ Studio if you’d like to give food or grocery story gift cards. A number of Girl Scout troops will be collecting food throughout the month so look for their posts and Sandcastles Childcare Center is hosting a diaper drive. Federal assistance does not pay for diapers and Interfaith says they need sizes five and six the most. If you’d like to donate food, the pantry needs children’s cereals, cooking oil, peanut butter and jelly, mac and cheese and healthy children’s snacks. Find out more or make a cash donation to www.interfaithsocialservices.org.
You can hear the full episode by subscribing to The Hingham Cast via the following link: https://hinghamanchor.com/the-hingham-cast/.