Program providing boxed meals for Wareham kids launches at YMCA

Jan 29, 2021

Another free meal distribution program to combat food insecurity in Wareham and surrounding communities has launched at the Gleason Family YMCA. 

The program was created in coordination with the Shah Family Foundation and the Greater Boston YMCA, after Wareham was identified as one of three communities in Southeastern Massachusetts where households were at higher risk of experiencing food insecurity during the pandemic. 

The first meals were distributed on Friday, Jan. 29. In the weeks to come, the program will continue to provide a selection of fresh, ready-made boxed meals to any child under age 18 in Wareham or from nearby towns. Meals will be available for pickup on Tuesdays and Fridays from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. (or until food runs out) in the Y parking lot at 33 Charge Pond road.

On Tuesdays, three meals will be provided. On Fridays, four meals will be provided. The program was designed to supplement the distribution of free breakfasts and lunches that is still currently being carried out by Wareham Public Schools. 

Cathy Longfield, the Y’s special events coordinator, said that the program’s boxed meals were designed to be used as snacks and dinners because the schools were providing breakfasts and lunches.

She said the program was important because a lot of families are “having a hard time.” In Wareham, Longfield said there are lots of unique situations — grandparents raising their grandchildren, for example — which can make it hard to put food on the table.

“Kids are home all day now,” she said. “Yes, they’re bringing home food from the schools, but it can go pretty quick.” 

Longfield also emphasized that the program was for kids up to age 18: “So if you’ve got a couple of high schoolers at home and it’s just like ‘ah, they’re eating me out of house and home’? This could be a great help for people with not just little kids, but big kids too.” 

On Friday, Wareham had enough prepared meals to serve 150 kids. Longfield encouraged people to arrive early, because food is passed out on a first-come, first-served basis. On Friday, cars came through the parking lot to pick up boxed meals at a steady pace.

Bonetown Burgers & BBQ, a food truck company out of Boston and Cranston, Rhode Island, was tasked with handling meal distribution. Workers from Bonetown Burgers & BBQ confirmed that the meals had been made the day before and were ready to be eaten as soon as they were heated up. Longfield said volunteers from the Y helped out with signs and assisted as needed.

“It’s super important for our community,” Longfield said. “This is to help families. It’s just something that gets them through the week.”

Longfield said people will be asked to provide some basic demographic information when picking up their meals, but there is no registration required. Kids do not have to be present when meals are picked up.

Prepared meals are also being offered for pickup at the Fall River and New Bedford YMCA locations, where the risk of food insecurity is high.