Medway Weekend Grocery Program Fills Close to 750 Orders for Local Families Since October Launch
Superintendent Armand Pires, Director of Wellness Dr. Ryan Sherman and Medway Village Church Food Pantry Director Susan Dietrich are pleased to share the success of the Weekend Grocery Program, a partnership between the district and food pantry.
The Weekend Grocery Program is an evolution of Medway’s Weekend Backpack Program, which began in 2019 and provided drawstring bags of non-perishable items for students to take home for the weekend. When the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, volunteers were unable to be in person to help pack the bags, and the USDA began providing meals for families, which filled the need for the backpack program.
This school year, the USDA continued to provide free lunches for students, but did not provide food for the weekend. As a result, Director Dietrich and Dr. Sherman revamped the backpack program, launching it as the Weekend Grocery Program in October 2021. The Weekend Grocery Program is an extension of the Medway Village Church Food Pantry, a private, non-profit group which is a member agency of the Greater Boston Food Bank.
The program was able to use grant funding to purchase a refrigeration unit this year and began offering perishable items and household items, in addition to nonperishable items. Families can receive perishable items and meal staples, such as milk, eggs, butter, cheese, cereal, pasta, pasta sauce, oatmeal, soup and more, as well as household essentials including dish soap, laundry detergent, paper towel and toilet paper.
“The Weekend Backpack Program served our elementary students well with a selection of snacks and other items, and we were fortunate to be able to build upon the success of that program and expand the nutritional and essential items we can offer to both students and their families,” Dr. Sherman said. “We are grateful to the Medway Village Church Food Pantry and Greater Boston Food Bank for their continued partnership and dedication to helping us meet the needs of our district’s families.”
The Weekend Grocery Program has filled almost 750 orders, or over 2,000 bags of groceries, and fed more than 2,800 individuals, 45% of whom were children this school year. The number of weekly orders filled has grown throughout the school year ranging from 11-16 orders per week in the fall, and climbing to 27-33 orders per week in the spring.
“When we first launched this program in late October 2021, we didn’t know quite what to expect,” Director Dietrich said. “By January, we were receiving an average of 30 customized orders every week, with roughly 75% of families choosing home delivery, and we knew we had found a way to meet a need in our community.”
An order form is emailed to Medway Public Schools families each week, and families interested in receiving up to three full bags of groceries fill out the order form to choose their items for that week. Volunteers, along with Director Dietrich and Dr. Sherman, then pack groceries based on the submitted order forms each week. Families are able to visit the food pantry to discreetly receive their groceries, or have the groceries delivered to their home by volunteers.
Today, Thursday, June 16 is the last weekly distribution date for the school year. The program will continue over the summer by offering distributions twice in July and twice in August. Families must have students enrolled in the Medway Public Schools system in order to participate in the program.
“This program has been a collaboration between the Medway Public Schools, the Greater Boston Food Bank, the Medway Village Church Food Pantry, and dozens of volunteers who packed and delivered almost 750 orders this school year,” Director Dietrich said. “I am truly grateful for all the support and am already looking forward both to the summer and the coming school year.”
For those who do not qualify for the school program, the Medway Village Church Food Pantry, 170 Village St., is open Saturdays from 8-10 a.m., and the Medway Food Pantry at Mahan Circle, 600 Mahan Circle, is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9-11 a.m. Both pantries serve any Massachusetts resident in need with no pre-qualifications.