Construction soon to start on new Damien’s Pantry location
Damien’s Place Family Food Pantry distributed over 900,000 pounds of food in 2021, but the pantry is hoping to top that number in 2023 with a new location at 242 Marion Road.
Construction of the new location is planned to begin this spring.
“Our goal is to be operating out of the new location by the winter of 2023,” said Damien’s Place Development Lead Rhonda Veugen.
Damien’s Place has made substantial progress raising funds for the new location, which was announced in August 2022.
The food pantry has served the Wareham and New Bedford area for over 30 years, typically providing food to 250 households per week. With the new building, Executive Director Pauline Lally hopes that Damien’s can reach even more people.
The pantry’s current location at 3065 Cranberry Highway has minimal street signage and limited shelf space.
Veugen said that inflation and the Covid-19 pandemic have forced more families to rely on the pantry.
“The need is not going to go away,” she said. “It’s only increasing.”
Since March 2021, Veugen has been working with the Damien’s Place Board of Directors, led by Nick Decas, and the newly-formed Capital Campaign Steering Committee to raise funds for for a new location.
“I jumped at the chance to help them with the capital campaign,” Veugen said. “I knew that this capital campaign would help to shine a light on this incredible organization.”
The donation of 2.48 acres of land at 242 Marion Road, provided by William Decas, Katharina Decas and John C. Decas, provided an opportunity to expand the pantry.
Lally said that the Decas family “thought it was a great idea to donate to such a great cause.”
According to Nick Decas, Chairman of the Damien’s Place Board of Directors, the project received approval from the Wareham Zoning Board. The Board of Directors plans to apply for a building permit once money for the build has been raised.
So far, a “quiet campaign” to raise an initial $1.4 million has raised $700,000 of the $1.775 million needed to build the new pantry. The Steering Committee plans to start a public campaign in the spring.
In addition to providing spacious working conditions for volunteers, added storage for donations and a community garden, the new building will allow people to choose their own food, rather than being given a standard-issue bunch of groceries. This type of pantry, known as a client choice pantry, is becoming an increasingly popular model nationwide.
During the pandemic, social distancing guidelines required people using Damien’s Place to pick up pre-packaged goods.
Although these restrictions have been lifted, the Cranberry Highway location’s lack of space prevents guests from choosing the food they want.
Veugen, Lally and the Board hope that the new space will have enough room to give people a “shopping experience” like they would get at a grocery store.
“We want to give people the dignity they deserve when they are going through a difficult time,” Veugen said.
The new space will also allow Damien’s Place to partner with local organizations to provide a variety of programming, such as financial literacy classes, to those in need.
To learn more, volunteer or make a contribution, visit https://damiensfoodpantry.org/capital-campaign/ or call 508-295-3486.