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MBTA and community groups unite to bring thousands of food deliveries to vulnerable citizens during pandemic

A partnership between the MBTA, the City of Boston, the YMCA of Greater Boston, and the Greater Boston Food Bank has helped provide thousands of meals and grocery bags to the city’s most vulnerable residents using the RIDE service since late May, officials said in a statement Thursday.

As ridership has declined during the pandemic, underutilized RIDE vehicles have been used to pick up groceries and shelf-stable school meals at the YMCA on Huntington Avenue and deliver them to those in need, the MBTA announced in a statement. The amount each household receives depends on the number of people in the household and if the family is enrolled in the Boston Public School partnership.

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“One of the many tragic consequences of the pandemic has been the explosive growth of food insecurity,” said Steve Poftak, MBTA general manager. “During the pandemic, these [RIDE] employees saw firsthand and early on that individuals who have issues with mobility, illness, quarantine, or are otherwise at high risk were unable to leave their homes to access food.”

“This partnership is a testament to the impact we can make in the lives of our families and those in need when we work together,” said Mayor Marty Walsh in a statement.

Since late May, RIDE has made nearly 3,200 deliveries, totaling over 5,100 grocery bags and 24,000 school meals to over 1,200 BPS students, officials said. Since the pandemic began, the City of Boston has provided over 1.2 million meals to youths and almost 100,000 meals to adults across 68 sites.

“It is a blessing to coalesce our organizational skills, infrastructures, and ‘people power’ in the spirit of serving others,” said Wendy Zinn, YMCA senior vice president, in a statement.

“This pandemic is unprecedented in our history, so it takes great community partners like the YMCA of Greater Boston and the MBTA to find creative ways to safely serve all of our neighbors in need,” said Catherine D’Amato, president and chief executive of the GBFB. “With food insecurity on the rise in our region, we also thank Mayor Walsh and the City of Boston for leading the way with innovative solutions that help to enhance the work of the emergency food network during this challenging time.”

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To find food resources including meal sites and food pantries, residents can visit boston.gov/COVID19food or call 311.

Matt Berg can be reached at matthew.berg@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mattberg33.