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Check Out Our 2013 Annual Report Here!

20140409_105503Dear Friends,

Many of our East Bay neighbors still struggle to feed their families. “Economic recovery” is slow at best in RI with the unemployment rate perpetually at the highest point in the nation.  The RI Community Food Bank reports that 15.4% of Rhode Island households (the highest in New England) do not have the means to purchase adequate food and that member agencies currently provide food assistance to 68,000 Rhode Islanders every month.  Nourishing our vulnerable neighbors is an enormous challenge that requires all of us – individuals, businesses, and organizations – to help to the best of our ability.

The East Bay Food Pantry (EBFP) serves over 1,000 people each month with more than 5,000 East Bay residents receiving assistance from one or more of our comprehensive Access Nutrition programs throughout the year. As a result, total food distribution was up by 26% over 2012, for a total of 258,169 pounds of food shared with clients in 2013.

  • EBFP’s newest program, Food4Kids, shows accelerated growth of 64%

Children of low-income families are at much greater risk during their formative years when sound nutrition is crucial for proper growth and health. Our Food4Kids program was designed to fill the weekend and vacation meal gap experienced by school-aged children who rely on the National School Lunch program for their sustenance. Food4Kids Weekend food packages are distributed twice a month during the school year with each providing 4-6 nutritious and “kid-friendly” breakfasts, lunches and snacks. The program has expanded to cover school vacations. In 2013 we provided 9,584 meals for kids, our most precious resource and the most vulnerable of our clients.

  • Fresh Food Fridays is growing in popularity with a 36% increase in usage

This means more clients are opting for fresh produce, which is exciting progress toward the nutritional goal of increasing our clients’ inclusion of fresh fruit and vegetables in their weekly diets.  Fresh produce donations from individual growers and local farms increased in 2013 to include nearly 1000 lbs each from Blithewold and the brand-new McCoy Community Farm in its first philanthropic growing season. In addition, We Share Hope donated 5,600 lbs. of produce recovered from various growers and grocers and we received over 55,000 lbs. of fresh produce from the RI Community Food Bank during 2013.

While we are thrilled with the success of our Access Nutrition Initiative, as seen through the dramatic increases in program usage by our clients, unfortunately not all the 2013 news is good.  Concurrent with our program growth and associated increased expenses, direct public giving dropped by 28%.  We are not alone in this downturn in contributions as other state food agencies have also reported a drop in donation dollars.  Fortunately, we can weather this financial challenge in the short term as we focus our attention on developing an expanded and more targeted approach to this essential component of our fiscal health.

We are fortunate to have a gifted staff whose hard work and dedication are commendable. Our board of directors are a team of vested veterans and bright new members who together bring many talents and fresh perspectives in a collaborative approach and energized vision for the pantry. We are most grateful for our fabulous, astoundingly committed volunteers – with nearly 10,000 hours of service to EBFP in 2013 – and without whom it would be impossible to provide the depth and quality of services to our clients. We appreciate the many ways each and every one of you bring our mission to life.  Together, we have provided 671,250 meals since we opened our doors in August 2009!

We are also grateful for the support we receive from the individuals, businesses and organizations in our community who understand that partnership is fundamental when providing assistance for over 5,000 East Bay neighbors struggling with food insecurity. And while we recognize that there are countless appeals for donations from numerous agencies, EBFP will continue the philosophy of not inundating our supporters with requests. Our goal is to host a single major fundraising event each year which we hope our supporters will attend, sponsor and help us promote.  And we will make only one annual appeal for contributions of which we ask for serious consideration. This important work cannot be accomplished without YOUR help.

We continue to be inspired by our mission: To engage, educate and empower the East Bay in creating a hunger-free community. Together we can do it!

With hope and joy,

Loretta Marion, EBFP President & Anita Randall, Executive Director

View entire 2013 Annual Report here…