First ARPA Funds Given to Reading Food Pantry

$46,200 check presented on Tuesday will aid food storage, purchases, and space usage

Reading, MA — With 13 new households utilizing the Reading Food Pantry this month, these ARPA funds couldn’t come soon enough. Town Manager Fidel Maltez, along with Select Board Chair Mark Dockser, Vice Chair Karen Herrick, and Secretary Chris Haley, presented the first ARPA funds for disbursement to the Food Pantry for $46,200.

The Town established the Reading ARPA Advisory Committee (RAAC) last year, comprised of members of the Finance Committee, Select Board, School Committee, and the Library Board of Trustees. The Committee conducted a community survey, reviewed applications for ARPA funds, and more, making a series of recommendations to the Select Board for approval. These funds to the Food Pantry are among the first to be paid out. 

With 133 households total, that’s at a high level, showing how inflationary pressures are encouraging more neighbors to utilize this local resource. All neighbors, the preferred term for pantry clients, are required to be Reading residents, and the application process is quick and easy. No income qualifications apply. Any resident who may need to visit the pantry are encouraged to drive-in for the next distribution (they are twice weekly, info below) and just let a volunteer know they are there for the first time. With eight distributions a month, and two local deliveries, neighbors may use the pantry twice each month to help meet their food needs.

As more households need the pantry’s services, the facility needs help meeting demand. The ARPA funds will go to four main project areas: purchasing additional freezer and food storage space, purchasing food gift cards to hand out, and conducting a space plan review to make the existing available space more efficient.

The Reading Food Pantry is located behind the Old South United Methodist Church, 6 Salem Street. All disbursements have volunteers bring order forms to neighbors in their cars and then the volunteers bring out the items, a practice begun during the pandemic.

Pantry hours are Monday nights 6:30-7:30PM and Friday mornings 10:30-11:30AM.

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