The Newton Food Pantry has reported seeing a huge spike in the number of residents seeking food aid since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Since March 18 the Newton Food Pantry has served 134 new households, according to pantry vice president Regina Wu. These numbers show an approximate 20 to 25 percent rise in new clients.
Local Newton restaurants have stepped up to fill the community's need for food. Johnny’s Luncheonette, Baramor, Galit’s Treats Café & Bakery, and Great Harvest Bakery are all giving back in various ways.
Johnny’s Luncheonette has been delivering homemade soups to The Newton Food Pantry, The Newton Housing Authority, Seniors at Home, Newton Community Development, and Second Step families living in domestic violence shelters.
Johnny’s has set up a weekly donation schedule for the participating groups to safely pick up the soup. In the first week, Johnny’s donated about 200 quarts of soup and has plans to continue to donate as long as there is a need. Johnny’s is also open for takeout during this time.
“I think there’s just something about homemade soup that makes you feel like you’re being taken care of,” Karen Masterson, the co-owner of Johnny’s Luncheonette, said.
Baramor has completely closed its doors during this time and cannot offer takeout; however, the restaurant is still doing what it can to give back.
For every $50 gift card purchased, $10 is being donated, and for every $100 gift card from Baramor, $25 is being donated. The donations will be going to the Newton Food Pantry and The New England Hemophilia Association. As of the close of its first week of donations on March 29, Baramor had donated $710 dollars (CQ).
“Everyone here is in this together, so even in the time of difficulty for restaurants our core value is to be united as a community and try to help when we can,” Arpit Patel, the owner of Baramor, said.
Galit’s Treats Café & Bakery has been delivering fresh challah to the homes of senior citizens. For the duration of this pandemic, it plans to donate fresh challah to different senior citizen homes every Friday.
Galit’s Treats & Café is exclusively donating to homes in the Newton-Needham area.
Great Harvest Bakery is asking its customers to purchase bread to donate to food pantries. The very first donation was over 100 loaves of bread with Great Harvest donating 22 loaves itself.
Great Harvest Bakery is committing to donating 20 percent more than what customers purchase. The bakery donated around 260 loaves of fresh-baked bread in the first 1 ½ weeks of its donation program. Two food pantries that are receiving these donations are the Centre St. Food Pantry and The Newton Food Pantry.
“The support we have gotten has been really, really good and people can go online now to do the donations,” Cheryl Cellucci from Great Harvest Bakery said. “The more donations we get the more we will try to get it out there to serve whoever we can.”
According to the restaurant owners, they will help the community the best they can during these difficult times. Donations will be just as important in the coming weeks.
“The really amazing response we have received from the community is the silver lining in all of this,” Tracie Longman, president of the Newton Food Pantry, said.
Iolanda Perna can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.