United Way’s Annual Thanksgiving Project Distributes Meals to Over 7,000 Local Families in Need

November 17, 2018

Demand for meals this year increased by over 500 families and distribution includes new locations

BOSTON — Hundreds of volunteers today joined United Way’s 19th Annual Thanksgiving Project to distribute more than 165,000 pounds of food in over 7,000 individual Thanksgiving grocery packages. This year, the United Way has seen a significant increase in need, with over 500 more families requesting meals.   The meals were distributed from 16 locations throughout Greater Boston, the South Shore, North Shore and Merrimack Valley, including new distribution locations in Roxbury, Waltham, Medford and Malden.

“Our focus is on helping the most people in need,” said Michael K. Durkin, President and CEO at United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley.  “Many families rely on these meals to help stretch their food budgets for the week. We are grateful to the generosity of our donors, volunteers and corporate partners like Bank of America, the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, UPS and Stop and Shop to provide some compassion and relief to families this holiday season.”

Catholic Charities of Boston is the largest distribution partner.  Cardinal Seán  P. O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston, joined Michael L. Durkin, President and CEO of United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley and Deborah Kincade-Rambo, President of Catholic Charities of Boston to help distribute more than 2,000 meals to families in need at the organization’s Yawkey Center in Dorchester.  An additional 1,500 meals were distributed from Catholic Charities sites in the South End, South Boston, Somerville and Lowell.

“We know that there are too many working families across our region unable to make ends meet—and are grateful to United Way, our donors, volunteers, and staff for ensuring that we care for our neighbors throughout the year, but most especially at Thanksgiving time as we share our abundance and blessings with so many,.” Rambo said.

Interfaith Social Services, based in Quincy, distributed 1,000 meals this year – a 100% increase over last year, and the Lynn Housing and Neighborhood Development distributed nearly 1,000 meals in Lynn.

Volunteers came together at Greater Lawrence Community Action Council and Family Services of Merrimack Valley to help over 325 families in Lawrence, and the Liz Murphy Open Hand Pantry in Haverhill served an additional 200 families in the region,  On the South Shore, the Weymouth Food Pantry distributed more than 370 meals and over 250 families were served through a partnership between United Way and Randolph High School. New distribution sites included the Waltham Boys and Girls Club, which distributed meals to 100 families in Waltham, and Housing Families and the Malden YMCA served more than 150 families in Malden and Medford.

The Thanksgiving bags from United Way included onions, potatoes, canned corn, canned green beans, cornbread mix, stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, rice, and an aluminum turkey pan. Families also received either a turkey, or a grocery gift card in their bags to purchase a turkey, depending on which site they picked up their meals.

Assembly and packing of the 7,000 meals kicked off on Tuesday, November 13th when food and supplies were delivered to the Hynes Convention Center and continued through Friday.  This year’s packing week included hundreds of volunteers and support from Bank of America, Vertex, UPS, Eze Software, Encore and Putnam, among many others, and also included: members of the Celtics CommUNITY Crew presented by TD Bank joining military service members from USO New England; a family night; and a young professionals packing night.

Since the Thanksgiving Project began, United Way volunteers and partners have come together to provide over 42,000 Thanksgiving meal packages to local families in need.