By Warren Talbot
---- — LAWRENCE – Thousands of pounds of food was distributed to nearly 200 military veterans and their family members at a mobile market at the Lawrence Senior Center last Saturday.
The event was coordinated by the Greater Boston Food Bank, American Red Cross of Eastern Massachusetts and Department of Veterans’ Services and with support from Bank of America.
Many veterans are ineligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits because of income guidelines and therefore struggle to put food on the table, according to Catherine D’Amato, President and CEO of the Greater Boston Food Bank.
On Saturday, more than 5,000 pounds of food was distributed with offerings including tomatoes, cabbage, onions, potatoes, apples, corn on the cob, eggs, yogurt, bread and poultry - enough for each recipient to make more than 25 meals.
“In this tough economic environment, with long-term unemployment, rising fuel, food and housing costs and shrinking wages, many veterans need support in order to feed themselves and their families,” D’Amato said.
To date, 11 mobile food markets have been run in eastern Massachusetts. Saturday’s distribution marked the first collaborative mobile food market effort between the Greater Boston Food Bank and the American Red Cross of Eastern Massachusetts. Funding for the monthly veterans’ distribution program is provided by Bank of America.
“Massachusetts leads the nation in providing benefits and resources to our veterans and military families,” said Department of Veterans’ Services Secretary, Coleman Nee. “No one that has worn the uniform and served this country should struggle to put food on their table.”
“For years we’ve partnered with the Greater Boston Food Bank in our Red Cross Food Pantries,” said Jarrett Barrios, CEO of the American Red Cross of Eastern Massachusetts. “We’re delighted to establish this new program to alleviate hunger in the veterans’ community.”
The Greater Boston Food Bank is the largest hunger-relief organization in New England and among the largest food banks in the country. It distributes nearly 41 million pounds of food and grocery products annually to 550 member hunger-relief agencies and more than 30 direct service programs throughout eastern Massachusetts for as many as 545,000 people a year.