SALEM — Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the city of Salem, like everywhere else, has seen an increase in food insecurity.
After seeing the need for food grow, the Salem Pantry has done everything it can to expand and help feed those needs this year. The pantry, which was established in 1991, has grown exponentially to tackle the problem and feed Salem families and residents meals during the pandemic.
Now that expansion is continuing this month with the growth of the pantry’s pop-up food pantry, located on the Salem State University campus.
The pop-up, which has been distributing meals on a bi-weekly basis, is now becoming a more consistent way for people in need to get meals. As of September, the service now offers free groceries from 10 a.m. to noon every Wednesday. The Salem Pantry Pop-Up at Salem State is located at 68 Loring Avenue.
“The economic fallout of this pandemic has caused more and more families to become food insecure, threatening the health and well-being of our residents and communities here in Salem,” said Robyn Burns, executive director of The Salem Pantry.
“We are grateful for the partners and supporters who have positioned us to meet this greater demand with more services.”
The Salem Pantry has helped feed over 1,800 Salem households and over 5,500 unique individuals. During the pandemic the pantry is distributing more than 60,000 meals each month at pop-ups, grocery assistance programs and partnerships with Salem Public Schools and other organizations.
The Pantry also received a state grant this summer to help increase its storage capabilities and expand its home-delivery assistance program in the form of a new cargo van.
The pop-up food pantry at Salem State was originally launched in 2019 as a partnership with Salem State University, Citizens Inn and The Salem Pantry. The program receives funding from the Brace Cove Foundation.
At the now weekly pop-up, Salem State students, faculty, and staff are asked to show their ClipperCard to access food.
Salem residents can complete a one-time registration form upon arrival before receiving food and the pantry will not turn anyone away. Safety guidelines, like the wearing of masks and physical distancing procedures, are in place.
“Unfortunately, colleges are not immune to the problem of food insecurity,” said John Keenan, the university’s president. “Salem State is very aware of the increased financial pressures brought by the pandemic, and we are grateful that this partnership will play an even larger role as a valuable supplement to our student food pantry.”
Another bi-weekly pop up is also available at Espacio on Congress Street, with dates and times available at the Pantry’s website TheSalemPantry.org/programs.