BOSTON – Food insecurity in Massachusetts doubled during the Covid-19 crisis, with more than 19% of households across the state struggling to put food on the table during the peak of the pandemic. With so many residents making difficult tradeoffs between paying rent, putting food on the table or paying medical and utility bills, United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley is launching a $1M fundraising drive through November 20th to help provide 18,000 families with the full ingredients needed for a Thanksgiving celebration.
United Way’s 22nd Annual Thanksgiving Project will serve 3,000 more families than it did in 2020. For $50, donors can provide a family in need with a Thanksgiving bag from United Way that includes: canned corn, canned green beans, stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, beans, rice, cornbread and an aluminum turkey pan. Families also receive either a turkey, or a grocery gift card to purchase a turkey, depending on which site they picked up their meals.
On Saturday, November 20th, volunteers will distribute the Thanksgiving bags at distribution sites in the following 27 communities: Chelsea, Attleboro, North Attleboro, Milton, Lowell, Haverhill, Lawrence, Lynn, Quincy, Randolph, Weymouth, Somerville, Malden, Medford, and Waltham, as well as the Boston neighborhoods of Brighton, Charlestown, Dorchester, East Boston, Hyde Park, Mission Hill, Roslindale, Roxbury, South End and South Boston. The Thanksgiving Project also extends to Rochester and Newmarket in New Hampshire. Last year, United Way’s Thanksgiving Project distributed more than 25,000 pounds of food and 15,000 gift cards to families.
“As food costs continue to rise and the demand for assistance remains high, local corporations and volunteers continue to step forward to donate food, funding, and their own time to help feed more families and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy this holiday meal with their loved ones,” said Bob Giannino, President and Chief Executive Officer at United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. “Donations to support United Way’s Thanksgiving Project not only provide the fixings for a holiday meal, but also help families stretch their food budgets for the week.”
Early corporate partners joining the movement are Amazon, Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, Wegmans, UPS, JP Morgan Chase and Vertex. Community partners include Catholic Charities of Boston, Interfaith Social Services, YMCA of Greater Boston, Lynn Housing and Neighborhood Development, Weymouth Food Pantry, Attleboro Area Interfaith Collaborative, The Neighborhood Developers, Emmaus, Inc., Family Services of Merrimack Valley, Concord Baptist Church, Town of Randolph, Roca, Mystic Valley YMCA, Mary Ellen McCormick Housing Development and Dwelling House of Hope.
Since the onset of the Covid-19 crisis, United Way and its partners have provided more than 400,000 people with emergency financial assistance, helping them to pay for food, housing, utilities, and other essential needs.