Damien’s Place looks to build new food pantry on Marion Road

Proposed plans include space for community garden
Aug 22, 2022

The Damien's Place food pantry, currently housed in cramped leased space in East Wareham, is preparing to build a new facility on Route 6 near Swifts Beach Road.

A representative from the nonprofit and local engineer presented a proposed site plan for the new pantry to the Planning Board at Monday night’s meeting.

The Family Pantry at Damien’s Place has long served residents in the greater Wareham and New Bedford region. About 140 to 150 people visit the pantry for food each week, and in 2021, nearly 1,800 families received food from the pantry. Its current location is in the old Ocean Spray building at 3065 Cranberry Highway.

That old location, G.A.F. Engineering representative Bill Madden said Monday night, “leaves a little bit to be desired.”

The new location would be at 242 Marion Rd., next to Cranberry Cottage restaurant and between Brown Street and Swifts Beach Road. The plan is in its early stages, Damien’s Place board president Nick Decas said after the meeting, so there’s no confirmed date of when the new pantry would open and the old one would close. Normal hours for the food pantry are generally between 8:30-11:30 a.m. on Thursdays and Saturdays for food pick-up.

The cost of the proposed facility was not disclosed during Monday night’s meeting.

Rhonda Veugen of Damien’s Place said Tuesday that more details will be released in future weeks after the organization reviews the pantry’s plans and fundraising goals.

“The pantry hopes with the newer space, more square footage and greater capacity,” she said, “they will be able to serve even more guests who need help.”

Site plans for the proposed building describe the new pantry as a 50’ by 100’ structure on an about 2.5-acre plot of land. The land was owned by the Decas family trust, Madden said, before being sold to Damien’s family trust for the nominal fee of $1.

The new site could also include space for a community garden, site plans show. That’s where people could grow vegetables for the pantry, Madden said in the meeting. The community garden would be in raised beds outside, next to the building and parking lot.

To be approved by the town, the nonprofit needs a special permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals, as the pantry is technically categorized as a “neighborhood grocery store,” Madden said. Next steps include getting approval from the Zoning Board and later the Planning Board.

“We think this is a little better location to serve,” Madden said.