U.S. funds could close 'final gap' for Damien's place

Aug 25, 2023

U.S. Rep. Bill Keating came to town last week to tour the current Damien's Place food pantry in East Wareham and pledge his support to obtain federal money to "close the final gap" in funding for Damien's larger, new facility now under construction on Route 6 near the town's center.

“[Damien’s] is an enormously effective example of community people getting together,” said Keating on Friday, Aug. 25. “What they do here is an incredible story – and an important one.”

Since announcing plans for the new 5,000-square-foot building last year, Damien's has raised $1.65 million of a $2.2 million project goal, according to Damien's Development Lead Rhonda Veugen. With pending congressional approval, the group is continuing to seek pledges for the additional $500,000. 

As Damien’s Pantry prepares to open its doors at 242 Marion Road this winter, staff and volunteers are excited about new opportunities for the community. 

The new facility was announced in August 2022 and broke ground in June. Now partially constructed, the venue will have more space for food storage, refrigeration and community programs, said Veugen. 

Damien’s Place hopes to utilize its additional space to work with other area organizations to integrate various supports into the food pantry. 

“We are going to work with community partners to do different kinds of programming,” said Veugen. “It’s more of a holistic approach to helping someone no longer be food insecure.”

Along with providing opportunities through community outreach programs, the food pantry is planning to have office space for private counseling. The new space will also allow guests to take control of their experience by choosing food based on dietary needs. 

“The biggest thing is giving our guests the dignity that they deserve,” said Veugen. 

With assistance from the Greater Boston Food Bank and 120 volunteers, Damien’s pantry feeds over 1,000 people monthly according to Veugen.

“Across our network, we are seeing that there is more need right now than there was even at the peak of the pandemic,” explained Kate Adams, public policy manager at the Greater Boston Food Bank. 

“The services that Damien’s place provides are so essential to a lot of people in the immediate and surrounding areas,” said Adams.

Donations can be made to the project at damiensfoodpantry.org/capital-campaign.