Veterans’ mobile food pantry serves those who served

Apr 3, 2023

Veterans, like most Americans, have been feeling the effects of rising costs. Michael Field, a volunteer with the Cape and Islands Veterans Outreach Center, heard from a veteran whose rent increased from $800 to $1400 a month. With Social Security being his only source of income, the man was forced out of his home, Field said.

“I’d imagine there’s a lot of veterans like that,” Field said. “The price of food has gone up, the cost of living, everything… I can’t imagine how some of these people are getting by without [our] help.”

On Friday, March 24, the Center opened its newest mobile food pantry, located at the Council on Aging. Field, a Marine Corps veteran himself, helped hand out food. 

The Wareham location is the Center’s fourth mobile pantry to date, with other locations in Falmouth, Eastham and Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard. 

Cape and Islands Veterans Outreach Center Executive Director Jim Seymour said that with a mobile pantry, the Hyannis-based Center can serve five regions with one team. 

Seymour, a Navy veteran, said food insecurity has become more of an issue for veterans since the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Seymour estimated that the first appearance of the mobile pantry in Wareham brought about 15 to 20 veterans and their families. He expects that number to grow as word spreads. 

The Center worked with Sharon Rice, director of the Council on Aging, to set up the pantry. 

“I’d do anything to support veterans,” Rice said. “Veterans are near and dear to my heart.”

The pantry is based in the Council on Aging’s daycare room at 48 Marion Road. Rice said that this location lets veterans learn about the other services the Council on Aging can offer them. 

The pantry is set up “supermarket style,” Rice said.

In addition to the usual selection of dry goods, the center also offers produce and meat. 

“People were so appreciative,” Rice said. “There’s a lot of food resources in Wareham, but meat is a rare thing to get.”

The pantry is currently open every other Friday, but operations will soon shift to Wednesdays. Its next appearance is scheduled for April 7. 

To use the pantry, veterans must provide a DD Form 214, showing an honorable discharge from the military.