In April, the Norfolk Food Pantry and other local groups were the recipients of carloads of food from Gillette Stadium and the Patriots Foundation. The distribution of the food was facilitated through the Federated Church of Norfolk.
Amy Lehan is a member of the church and a co-founder of the church’s Love Your Neighbor initiative. Lehan was contacted by organizers at Gillette and asked if her organization could use the food.
“The first time I went over there, they filled my car with frozen concession stand food,” she said. “It was a little crazy and overwhelming but we managed to get all the food back to the church and then contacted the food pantry.”
The church stored the food in its various freezers and refrigerators before coordinating with the food pantry for distribution. Lehan said the donated food was handed out in addition to the food requested by food pantry clients.
Over the course of the month, Lehan made several more trips back to Gillette and secured additional food, including fresh produce and more frozen products, food that most likely would have gone to waste now that Gillette Stadium is closed.
The food included bags of cooked chicken, bagels, eggs, pizza, ribs, and brisket. Lehan also received a dozen large pans of frozen pulled pork. Those were distributed to the police and fire departments, Gilly’s House in Wrentham, and Haven of Grace, a women’s shelter in Woonsocket.
The Patriots Foundation and Gillette Stadium are also teaming up with the Massachusetts Military Support Foundation to provide 1 million meals to veterans in need.
The Love Your Neighbor initiative at the Federated Church was formed soon after the coronavirus pandemic forced the shutdown of the state. Lehan and fellow church members Emily Woodward, chair of the church’s Missions committee, and Janet Chandler established the initiative to respond to any local needs that arise due to the virus.
Lehan says volunteers have gone food shopping for vulnerable residents, picked up prescriptions, and even provided toilet paper to a resident. The group has also secured food for a family in need outside of food pantry hours.
For questions about the Love Your Neighbor Initiative, email Lehan at [email protected]. Residents in need during the pandemic are asked to call 508-298-7937 and leave a message. A church volunteer will return your call.
Donations for the food pantry can be left at the creche in front of the Federated Church. The bin is emptied several times a day.