Food insecurity exists on the North Shore of Massachusetts. The Salem Pantry is now serving six times more people than normal and anticipates distributing nearly one million pounds of food. And it’s still not enough.

But, there’s something happening in December that you as a small business owner, entrepreneur, or just plain member of the North Shore community can get involved with. “Feeding Community” is a recent joint initiative of The Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) and The Salem Pantry designed to raise awareness of food insecurity, secure essential funding, and recruit volunteers to support The Salem Pantry’s life-sustaining operations.

 “Amid a pandemic and record unemployment, food insecurity is an essential issue facing our communities and the need is dire,” said Robyn Burns, Executive Director of The Salem Pantry. “We are proud to partner with PEM to attack this issue head on and help inspire a new wave of community support and action.”

Food insecurity refers to the USDA’s measure of lack of access or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate foods for an active, healthy life for all household members. Food insecurity may reflect a household’s need to make trade-offs between important basic needs, such as housing or medical bills, and purchasing nutritionally adequate foods.

Statistics for Doubters

Even before the COVID pandemic hit, some 13.7 million households, or 10.5% of all U.S. households, experienced food insecurity at some point during 2019, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

But, according to one estimate by researchers at Northwestern University, food insecurity more than doubled as a result of the economic crisis brought on by the COVID outbreak, hitting as many as 23% of households earlier this year.

And where are the kids in this mess? An analysis by the Brookings Institution conducted earlier this summer found that in late June, 27.5% of households with children were food insecure — meaning some 13.9 million children lived in a household characterized by child food insecurity.

Community Support & Action — That’s Where You Come In

PEM will enroll volunteers, collect food donations on site at the museum, and help distribute food to the community at The Salem Pantry. Through the month of December, financial contributions made to either PEM’s Annual Fund or The Salem Pantry will help unlock a donor’s generous challenge pledge of $20,000.

Your involvement is critical to this fundraising effort! Once each organization receives 200 donations, the “Feeding Community” challenge gift will be distributed. Learn more at: pem.org/feedingcommunity

Want to join the effort? Here’s how you can help:

“Feeding Community seeks to keep our community nourished and vibrant,” said Amanda Clark MacMullan, PEM’s Chief Philanthropy Officer. “This is a win-win partnership that helps strengthen our community by feeding the body and feeding the soul. Through creative collaboration with The Salem Pantry, we hope to help our neighbors find the nourishment and resources they need for themselves and their families.”

Please drop off non-perishable food items at PEM’s admissions desk Thursday through Sunday, 10am to 5pm during December.

(Photo courtesy of The Salem Pantry. Photo by Jennifer Percy.)