Damien’s Food Pantry officially opens in new space

Feb 19, 2024

A year and a half after announcing its plans to move, Damien’s Food Pantry has opened its brand new doors to clients for the first time on Thursday, Feb. 15. 

Warehouse Manager Jennifer Polito said the pantry saw approximately 175 clients on the first day and everything went “smooth.”

“We had a great amount of volunteers that came in,” Polito said. “We got a lot of positive feedback and it was a great success. We couldn't have asked for anything better.”

Inside the big blue warehouse now located at 242 Marion Road, aisles of food and toiletries line the space — set up exactly like a grocery store. 

Clients are able to grab a shopping cart on their way and peruse the aisles for items that they want and need. 

Polito said previously, clients would receive a bag with a certain number of items from each food group. Now, the aisles are labeled with signs of how many items each client can take, but they get to choose, such as their preferred fruits and vegetables.

“It gives them more freedom and makes them feel better about themselves when they can choose what they get rather than just be given something,” she said. “It's all about giving them respect and making them feel good about themselves.”

The pantry is now also operating under new hours. It will now be open Thursdays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Back in January, Damien’s was still $365,000 short of meeting its $2.2 million fundraising goal.

Polito said the pantry is now “pretty close” to reaching it, but emphasizes that there is always more to raise. 

The pantry continues to accept donations whether monetary, food or toiletry. Polito said those interested in donating should come to the warehouse’s door number one, which is located on the right side of the building. 

Having been a part of this transition from the start, Polito said it is “fantastic” seeing it all come together.

“It's really a great feeling,” she added. “And like I said, today was beyond our expectations for our first day.”