Cas Casados is a native of San Joaquin Valley in California who came to this area 2½ years ago with her partner, a minister at a church in Grafton. She had attended graduate school with him, earning her master's degree in social change with a focus on food studies.
And now, as director of the Weymouth Food Pantry since April 2014, she's setting about doing what she knows best: getting food to people who need it most.
"Monthly, we serve about 1,000 to 1,300 people in Weymouth, and we're working on expanding operations to serve families in each of its four main villages," said Casados, 36. "We're starting in another village in March and hope to be in all four by the end of the year."
She converted the system from one where people would come to a distribution center to a mobile operation, bringing the food by truck to where the needs are most acute, she said.
"In addition, we're going to get into a Super 8 Motel, which is a shelter for homeless people, so we can do emergency distributions," she said. "This new design offers much better service."
When Casados came to the area, she started volunteering at the food pantry of Quincy-based Interfaith Social Services. She attended meetings of the hunger network in this region, and then learned of the Weymouth Food Pantry opportunity.
"When Patricia Adams said she was retiring, I thought it would be a great fit for me," Casados said.
She calls the mobile food distribution system "a pop-up pantry" that will continue to grow. She'd also like to work with local families to grow their own food, citing a successful ongoing partnership with Keohane Funeral Home with its "Harvest Helpers" program that gives out seedlings to people who give back a portion of their crop to food pantries.
Longer term, Casados would like to work with local artists "to dispel the inaccurate stereotype about those using the food pantry, through storytelling, art, or photography."
The nonprofit pantry relies heavily on volunteers, she said, and anyone wanting to help can visit www.weymouthfoodpantry.org for information.
Paul E. Kandarian can be reached at email@example.com.