Students Effort Has Belmont Food Pantry On The Move; Next Stop, Town Hall

Photo: The Town Hall entry to what will become the home of the Belmont Food Pantry. 

After journeying from site and site over the years, the Belmont Food Pantry will be moving to Belmont Center as the quarter-century non-profit has found a new, and hopefully permanent home in Belmont’s Town Hall.

The pantry, which began in December 1992 in the former Waverley Fire Station, will occupy its new location on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019, said Town Administrator Patrice Garvin at Monday’s Board of Selectmen meeting.

The space, a small office that once housed the town’s Retirement Board and an IT training room, is located on the ground floor of Town Hall. There is an exterior door on the Concord Avenue side that once was the entry to the Town Clerks Office before the building was renovated in 1999.

According to Laurie Graham, a pantry director who attended the selectmen’s meeting, said it was two Belmont High School student’s, Rebecca Salame and Olivia Bible, who both envisioned and began the process of ending the pantry’s unwanted wanderlust.

The pantry has been on the move since it left at the fire station in 2005 to Belmont High School. It would occupy the ground floor of the former Belmont Municipal Light Department building across from Town Hall beginning in 2009 and remained there for three years before heading back to the high school in 2012. Its final move was to Mt. Hope Christian Church on Lexington Street in 2016. 

Last year, Salame and Bible chose food injustice as their capstone project in Belmont High teacher Jamie Shea’s Global Leadership class, with a focus on the food pantry, which serves 200 residents on a regular basis.

“After speaking with several people involved in the pantry they realized that we were not short on volunteers, food or monetary donations but rather the biggest challenge was space,” said Graham. The students met with Selectman Adam Dash on finding a more permanent spot for the pantry.
“At the end of that meeting, the [Selectmen] … directed [Garvin] to see if she could find a space we could use. About a week later she told us there were two potential spaces; one at Town Hall as well as another spot in the Department of Public Works yard,” said Graham.
“[The pantry directors] looked at both and it was determined that the Town Hall site was the better, and really the only viable option. The location is good and it is a hugely important move to have the town really having more active participation in the Pantry,” she said.
“It is not as big as the space that we had at the High School, but then again nothing has been since then,” said Graham.
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