Barre Congregational Church

30 Park Street
Barre, Massachusetts
A Message From the Food Pantry
Since mid-March, the Barre Food Pantry at the Barre Congregational Church has been distributing groceries to clients through a drive-through process designed to keep both clients and volunteers as safe as possible from the COVID-19 virus. We have continued to offer two distributions each month, on the morning of the second Wednesday and the evening of the third Thursday. The word about the Pantry has been spreading through our four-town catchment area of Barre, Oakham, New Braintree and the villages of Wheelwright and Gilbertville in Hardwick. In October’s two distributions and home deliveries to shut-ins, we served a total of ninety households including twelve who were coming to the pantry for the first time.

Our process has adapted to the restrictions imposed by the pandemic. In order to allow for physical distancing, we have been working with fewer volunteers and we pre-bag more canned groceries. For their safety, a small number of volunteers work separately ahead of time in household family groups. We pre-fill doubled brown shopping bags with canned and dry foods. Just before we open for distribution, two volunteers begin filling plastic shopping bags with refrigerated and frozen foods to accompany the brown bags.

Arriving clients are greeted by a volunteer at the intersection of the church driveway with Park Street and they are asked to remain in their vehicles. Another volunteer checks each client in through their driver’s car window and moves them on. The process is explained, cookbooks and washable cloth masks are offered when available, and questions are answered at this point. The pre-filled brown paper grocery bags are loaded into clients’ vehicles out the front double doors from the pre-school room. Clients then are directed up the drive toward the rear parking lot where other volunteers bring additional groceries to the vehicles and place them in the trunk or back seat before they drive away down the west driveway.

While clients recognize that this drive-through system offers them less choice over which groceries they will receive, the trade-off is groceries delivered directly to their vehicles and minimum exposure to other people. The new method has been warmly welcomed.
Our next distributions will be on the morning of Veterans Day, Wednesday November 11th from 10:00 a.m. to noon and on the evening of Thursday, November 19th from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.. Wednesdays are always our busiest distribution, and November is always our busiest month. Because of the economic impact of COVID-19, we anticipate a high turnout.

Submitted by Chuck R.